Cleveland church holds special service to help members cope with Connecticut school shooting

CLEVELAND - With people in our area still trying to cope with Friday's tragedy, churches Sunday became classrooms, providing a place for discussion and a place for parents to education their children on what happened just a few days ago.

Reflecting on her own daughter, Latasha Branch became filled with emotion. She teared up as she told fellow church members, "My heart goes out to those parents because I don't know what I would do if I wouldn't be able to see her face every day."

Expressing these emotions was difficult for many members of the In Touch of Christ Church on Cleveland's east side. But what was more difficult was expressing these emotions in front of their children. You see, up until Sunday, Branch said she didn't tell her 7-year-old daughter about what happened in Newtown, Conn.

"I didn't want to dishearten her and hurt her spirits because she is a very loving child," said Branch to the church.

Recognizing this struggle, Bishop Prince Moultry and church members addressed the truth together and then lit 20 candles with the kids as the adults lit six for Friday's victims. The names of each victim were read as each candle was lit.

"I don't know why all those people needed to kill the kids because they didn't do nothing," 7-year-old Ayrianna Branch told NewsChannel5. But talking about it together in church, she said, helped her feel more comfortable.

"It made me feel better because I was with my family," said Ayrianna Branch.

"To see these 20 candles and then 6 more, lit, with the music. It just makes it more personal and then you begin to think about your children and then you begin to think about your own. This could've simply happened here," said Bishop Moultry.

The bishop also used the service to talk about mental illness and violence highlighting clergy of all denominations will be holding their doors open in this time of need, in case anyone should decide they need to talk with someone.

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