Captain Jason Daniels and Rob King receive blessings.
Islanders and visitor walk on Lighthouse Road to the Methodist Church in a vigil to end violence.

Text and photos by Peter Vankevich

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A spur-of the-moment effort by the two Ocracoke churches address healing from the recent shootings in Dallas, St. Paul, Baton Rouge and beyond drew about 60 people Sunday evening.

The news of a candlelight vigil began spreading Friday on Facebook and other news sources.

“There is a spiritual darkness now,” said Rev. Richard Bryant of the Ocracoke United Methodist Church as he and Rev. Ivey Belch of the Ocracoke Assembly of God Church passed out candles before the march began at the lighthouse at 8 p.m.  “The candles show our spirit and our light.  It’s important for us to show we as a community are concerned and involved.”

The spirit of the march from the lighthouse to the Methodist Church was for peace and to not answer violence with violence and to acknowledge and bless community law enforcement officers.

Both islanders and visitors participated.

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Zane and Margaret Lazer of Ohio join the vigil.

Zane and Margaret Lazer from Marietta, Ohio, who have visited Ocracoke for many years, participated.

“We came out with a desire to express our hopes that we can eventually overcome the discord that we seem to keep experiencing over and over in our country,” Margaret said.  “This is not going to solve it, but I think the more people make  themselves visible in opposition to this kind of upheaval the better it can help make things change. The community of Ocracoke is special one and we are proud to participate.”

“I think violence and racial conflict are not necessary, and there has to a way to make it stop,” Zane added.

In the church, participants sang hymns and listened to Bryant and Belch speak of the spiritual need to address the current unrest and violence nationwide.

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Capt. Jason Daniels and Deputy Sheriff Rob King receive blessings from the group.

Capt. Jason Daniels and deputy Sheriff Rob King represented all the island law enforcement officers, including those with the National Park Service.

The group and pastors gathered around the officers and gave both blessings and thanks for their service.

Daniels said he was overwhelmed and thanked those who had turned out.

“Having the community support makes me glad to put my uniform on and go work our job easier,” he said. “We do our best for help the community and are hearts are in.”

Pastors Richard Bryant and Ivey Belch light candles.
Vigil begins at the lighthouse.
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