CONNECTICUT SCHOOL SHOOTING: Local churches help members make sense of senseless massacre

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EAU CLAIRE, Wis. (WEAU) -- The tragic school shooting in Newtown, Connecticut was heavy on the minds of churchgoers across the country Sunday as they attended services.

WEAU 13 News spoke with three local church leaders to see how they're helping members make sense of this senseless act.

Local pastors said they reacted to the news of 20 school children being shot and killed at Sandy Hook Elementary on Friday just like anyone else.

“With tears and sorrow for the people that have been affected,” said Rolf Nestingen, the Senior Pastor of Grace Lutheran Church.

“And it makes you question a lot of things,” said Julianne Lepp, Lifetime Minister of the Unitarian Universalist Congregation.

The pastors said they lit candles for the victims and had special prayer time.

“Pray for the families of those who lost loved ones and pray for the family for the shooter as well. Knowing they are suffering and grieving too,” said Loyed Arnold, the Pastor of First Baptist Church.

A big question many may be asking themselves is why would God allow such a horrible thing to happen?

But Pastor Nestingen said it's not God's will to make people suffer this way.

“It's the product of sinfulness at least on the part of one person who decides their way of working out their animosities or aggressions is to affect the lives of others in such terribly tragic way,” Nestingen said.

“I always say that was the whole point of Jesus coming, to share our suffering and to show us that he loves us, god still loves us. And he’s there in the middle of all of this,” Arnold said.

Church leaders said people can use the holiday season to reflect on how they can promote change.

“We can come together, we can speak up against injustice and we can hopefully advocate for greater support for mental health and less access to firearms if unwarranted,” Lepp said.

“Especially the increased incidences of these kind of events must indicate something about our culture, about our society that's missing,” Nestingen said.

For those feeling grief over this tragedy or any other, they said coming together with a community can help.

“You got to have that kind of support around you as well. You can’t do it by yourself,” Arnold said.