Stratford clergy to host vigil on Thursday

The violent deaths of black men and police officers in Baton Rouge, La., Falcon Heights, Minn. and Dallas have left many sad, angry and divided. Stratford’s clergy are hoping to encourage unity with a candlelight vigil on Thursday.

The First Baptist Church of Stratford, the Stratford Interfaith Clergy Association and the First Church Congregational in Fairfield will host the vigil at 8 p.m. Thursday on the steps at the First Baptist Church, located at 1301 Stratford Ave.

Rev. Jeff Lukens, pastor of the Lordship Community Church, said members of the First Baptist Church and the First Church Congregational wanted to do something to remember those who died following the incidents last week. Alton Sterling died last Wednesday after an altercation with police officers in Baton Rouge. Philando Castile died last Wednesday after he was shot by a police officer during a traffic stop in Falcon Heights. Five Dallas police officers — Brent Thompson, Patrick Zamarripa, Michael Krol, Michael Smith, and Lorne Ahrens — died last Thursday after being shot by a sniper during a downtown rally to protest police brutality. In the wake of the shootings, more questions have been raised about race relations in America and the actions of law enforcement officers.

Lukens said members of the two churches had been holding conversations on racism and race relations in an effort to better understand each other and work toward eradicating racism.

Rev. William B. Sutton of First Baptist Church said it’s important to send a message that the faith community is working and praying for an end to racism.

“We need let these communities know that people of faith stand behind them, are praying for them, and are working to combat the sins of racism and divisiveness that plague our nation,” Rev. Sutton said.

This event is open to the public and will feature speakers from various faith communities and community leaders.