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Church open for prayer tonight

In the wake of the shootings in Newtown today, St. Stephen’s Church is open for prayer until 9:30 tonight.

“The news of the school shooting in Newtown brings to our attention the vulnerability of life and the fragility of happiness and comfort,” said Rector Whitney Altopp. “St Stephen’s, located at 351Main Street, will be open as a place of quiet and prayer until 9:30 tonight.  All people are welcome to sit in the worship space and offer prayers for family and friends of our Newtown neighbors. Prayer materials are available.”

Debbie Gravitte’s holiday show at the Playhouse, scheduled for tonight, has been postponed to Dec. 21 due to the shootings in Newtown.

President Obama, who has ordered flags flown at half staff till sunset Dec. 18, offered this statement at 3:15 p.m.: “This afternoon, I spoke with Governor Malloy and FBI Director Mueller.  I offered Governor Malloy my condolences on behalf of the nation, and made it clear he will have every single resource that he needs to investigate this heinous crime, care for the victims, counsel their families.

“We’ve endured too many of these tragedies in the past few years.  And each time I learn the news I react not as a President, but as anybody else would — as a parent.  And that was especially true today.  I know there’s not a parent in America who doesn’t feel the same overwhelming grief that I do.

“The majority of those who died today were children — beautiful little kids between the ages of 5 and 10 years old.  They had their entire lives ahead of them — birthdays, graduations, weddings, kids of their own.  Among the fallen were also teachers — men and women who devoted their lives to helping our children fulfill their dreams.

“So our hearts are broken today — for the parents and grandparents, sisters and brothers of these little children, and for the families of the adults who were lost.  Our hearts are broken for the parents of the survivors as well, for as blessed as they are to have their children home tonight, they know that their children’s innocence has been torn away from them too early, and there are no words that will ease their pain.

“As a country, we have been through this too many times.  Whether it’s an elementary school in Newtown, or a shopping mall in Oregon, or a temple in Wisconsin, or a movie theater in Aurora, or a street corner in Chicago — these neighborhoods are our neighborhoods, and these children are our children.  And we’re going to have to come together and take meaningful action to prevent more tragedies like this, regardless of the politics.

“This evening, Michelle and I will do what I know every parent in America will do, which is hug our children a little tighter and we’ll tell them that we love them, and we’ll remind each other how deeply we love one another.  But there are families in Connecticut who cannot do that tonight.  And they need all of us right now.  In the hard days to come, that community needs us to be at our best as Americans.  And I will do everything in my power as President to help.

“Because while nothing can fill the space of a lost child or loved one, all of us can extend a hand to those in need — to remind them that we are there for them, that we are praying for them, that the love they felt for those they lost endures not just in their memories but also in ours.

“May God bless the memory of the victims and, in the words of Scripture, heal the brokenhearted and bind up their wounds.”

State Senator Toni Boucher said, “I am deeply saddened and pained by the  horrific and senseless  mass shooting of innocent children and members of the Newtown school community. As a parent and grandparent there are no words to explain how awful this news is to hear or process. My heart goes out to the families who have lost their loved ones.  They should know that this unimaginable tragedy of historic portion has affected everyone in Connecticut and the nation.  Parents throughout our area  are devastated and have immediately reached out to extend their condolences and have offered to help in any way that they can.  This community will need all of our prayers and support in the coming days, weeks and months and should know that we are there for them.”

Fourth District Congressman Jim Himes issued the following statement this afternoon, “Words cannot express the sadness and horror I feel at the horrendous shootings in Newtown. As father to two young girls, I don’t know how life would go on after the murder of my child or one of their teachers. But if community means anything, the children of Sandy Hook Elementary School are our children, as were the children of Columbine, Virginia Tech, and Aurora. I hope and pray that the flood of sympathy and condolences offered to the victims and survivors of this unspeakable crime will ignite the dedication and ingenuity of our nation to end this scourge of violence.”

Rabbi Sholom Deitsch of Chabad Ridgefield said early this afternoon, “To all our Newtown friends … please know you are in our thoughts and prayers on this frightening morning! To the rest of us all: we need to continue our job of making this world a better place by adding love, respect, kindness and lots of light.”

Meanwhile, apparently most parent-teacher conferences took place as scheduled in the elementary schools today, though there was a report Farmingville’s were cancelled. School officials had cancelled the elementary school parent-teacher conferences, then a short while later decided not to cancel them, leading to some confusion.

Elementary children were dismissed as planned, though some dismissals were late. Elementary pupils were not allowed outdoors on recess today.

Ridgefield Police had stationed an officer at each building as a precaution.

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