Students, faculty, staff, trustees and members of the Geneva community gathered to honor the victims of the tragedy in Orlando, Fla., during a multi-faith remembrance service in St. John’s Chapel on Wednesday. Led by Chaplain Maurice Charles, the service included songs, readings and prayers from across Christianity, Islam and Judaism, with reflections offered by President Mark D. Gearan, Professor and Chair of Religious Studies Etin Anwar and Associate Professor of Religious Studies Shalahudin Kafrawi.
The service opened with artists from the Geneva Music Festival – Geoffrey Herd, Eliot Heaton, Colin Brookes and Max Geissler – who performed “Beethoven String Quartet No. 13 in B-Flat Major.“ Following the invocation, Assistant Professor of Music and pianist Charity Lofthouse accompanied vocalist Charles King for a rendition of “Over Jordan.”
“We gather to mourn who I will now call the fierce 49, most of whose Spanish names defiantly dance on the tongue even through tears. We pray for those who love and care for them even now, and for those still breathing through the pain of their wounds,” said Charles.
Gearan urged all to be “mindful of our collective responsibility to stand in solidarity with the LGBT community in Orlando, in Geneva, and around the world.”
“My hope – in which I hope we are united – is that at Hobart and William Smith with our curriculum revised, with the animating principles of ‘explore,’ ‘collaborate’ and ‘act,’ my hope is that we leave this sacred place committed to thinking through what each one of us can do about bigotry, hate and violence,” Gearan said.
After offering prayers for the victims of all shootings, Anwar described her grief. “As a parent, I can share the agony in the many conversations I have had with my children about the shootings, and what it means for them to be Muslim in America,” explained Anwar. She asked those in attendance to “stand together to honor the lost life…stand together to say ‘no’ to racial, political and religious violence – to say ‘no’ to intolerance and hate due to the fear of the unknown.”
Kafrawi opened with the Islamic greeting for “peace be upon you all.” “The Orlando massacre and so many other violent acts only strengthen our community’s commitment to the message of inclusion and care. Siding with the LGBT community and other minority groups, together we can confront ignorance, intolerance, hatred, violence and injustices,” Kafrawi concluded.
Associate Professor of Chemistry Justin Miller and Director of the Abbe Center for Jewish Life and HWS Hillel Adviser Julianne Miller sang Psalm 23 in Hebrew. Julianne also read “A Liturgy After Terror Attacks,” by Jewish Poet Alden Solovy.
MaryAnn Hamilton concluded the ceremony with an organ voluntary, which was also played at times throughout the service. Completing the service, Solomé Rose, interim Chief diversity Officer, read the names of those who died in Orlando: Stanley Almodovar III, Amanda Alvear, Oscar A. Aracena-Montero, Rodolfo Ayala-Alaya, Antonio Davon Brown, Darryl Roman Burt II, Angel Luis Candelario-Padro, Luis Daniel Conde, Cory James Connell, Tevin Eugene Crosby, Anthony Luis Laureano Disla, Deonka Deidra Drayton, Leroy Valentin Fernandez, Simon Adrian Carrillo Fernandez, Mercedez Marison Flores, Peter. O. Gonzalez-Cruz, Juan Ramon Guerrero, Paul Terrell Henry, Frank Hernandez, Miguel Angel Honorato, Javier Jorge-Reyes, Jason Benjamin Josaphat, Eddie Jamoldroy Justice, Christopher Andrew Leinonen, Alejandro Barrios Martinez, Juan Chavez Martinez, Brenda Lee Marquez McCool, Gilberto Ramon Silva Menendez, Kimberly Morris, Akyra Monet Murray, Luis Omar Ocasio-Capo, Geraldo A. Ortiz-Jimenez, Joey Rayon Paniagua, Jean Carlos Mendez Perez, Enrique L. Rios Jr., Eric Ivan Ortiz Rivera, Jean C. Nives Rodriguez, Xavier Emmanuel Serrano Rosado, Christopher Joseph Sanfeliz, Edward Sotomayor Jr., Yilmary Rodriguez Sulivan, Shane Evan Tomlinson, Martin Benitez Torres, Jonathan Antonio Camuy Vega, Franky Jimmy Dejesus Velazquez, Juan P. Rivera Velazquez, Luis S. Vielma, Luis Daniel Wilson-Leon, and Jerald Arthur Wright.
A video of the service is available on YouTube.