, Newburyport, MA

April 19, 2013

Newburyport service pays tribute to marathon victims


---- — NEWBURYPORT — An interfaith service featuring psalms, prayers and remembrance was held last night to help community members to deal with shock, pain and loss following Monday’s death and destruction at the Boston Marathon.

Close to 200 somber residents of all faiths gathered at Congregation Ahavas Achim in the memory of Krystle Campbell, Lu Lingzi and Martin Richard, who lost their lives this week.

The observance also was dedicated to “the healing of the injured and the peace of the Commonwealth and the world.”

Rabbi Avi Poupko hosted the service, and local clergy taking part included Father Constantine Newman of the Annunciation Greek Orthodox Church; the Rev. Ross Varney of Belleville Congregational Church; Joan Fruend, of the First Church of Christ, Scientist; the Rev. Pete Balentine, Hope Church; and the Rev. Ollie Jones, St. Paul’s Church.

The interfaith service was composed of quiet songs, recitation of prayers and moments of quiet contemplation.

Members of the clergy invited listeners to contribute their thoughts and prayers, and about a half-dozen did.

One song that appeared to resonate among the congregation was “A Mighty Fortress,” which concludes with the lines, “Let goods and kindred go, this mortal life also; the body they may kill; God’s truth abideth still, His Kingdom is forever.”

A tune that visitors sang with earnestness was “Blowing in the Wind,” a song popular in days of protest during the sometimes tumultuous ’60s and ’70s.

The congregation joined in as if by memory on such lines as, “How many times must the cannonballs fly, Before they are forever banned, The answer, my friend, is blowing in the wind, The answer is blowing in the wind,” and “How many deaths will it take till he knows that too many people have died.”

Though the gravitas of death and loss was heavy during the somber hour-long gathering, there were words of hope.

Mayor Donna Holaday, after noting the enormity of the tragedy, urged listeners to remember how many acts of goodness followed the sudden moments of violence.

She said that there were many instances of selflessness and love, from spectators helping the injured to entrants running straight to Boston hospitals to give blood.

Holaday asked all to help each other in renewing their strength and opening their hearts in an effort to prevent bloodshed and violence in the future.

Readings by members of the clergy included psalms 91, 131, 46, 77, 22 and 23.

In addition to those mentioned above, members of the Newburyport Clergy Association, which was responsible for the gathering, include the Rev. Christopher Ney of the Central Congregational Church; the Rev. Harold Babcock, of the First Religious Society, Unitarian Universalist; the Rev. Rob John, Old South Presbyterian Church; and the Rev. Martha Hubbard of St. Paul’s Church.