Atlanta's 'healing' memorial
Interfaith service comforts families, city after murderous July
August 4, 1999
ATLANTA (CNN) -- Less than a mile from where day trader Mark Barton gunned down his victims, people from across the Atlanta area came together as a community Wednesday, hoping to ease the city's pain from a rapid-fire string of July killings.
"We do humbly ask for the healing of our city," said the Rev. Joanna Adams during an interfaith memorial service held to offer comfort following recent acts of violence that stunned Atlantans.
In separate incidents, 20 people -- including children and police officers -- were killed in the city and suburbs in little more than two weeks. The three gunmen responsible also died, two at their own hand, the other shot dead by police.
Atlanta Mayor Bill Campbell had asked that the entire city take part in a moment of silence at noon to honor the victims.
The moment came at the start of the memorial service at Peachtree Road United Methodist Church in the city's Buckhead neighborhood, not far from the office buildings where Barton opened fire at two stock brokerage offices last Thursday.
The church bell tolled solemnly at noon as mourners who nearly filled the 1,125-seat church bowed their heads.
President and Mrs. Clinton sent a letter offering their condolences.
The Rev. Don Harp, senior minister at Peachtree United Methodist Church, said the series of killings was not the will of God, but "the act of people who have lost touch with reality."
"It does cause anger within me when I realize that it's more difficult to get a prescription filled than it is to get a handgun," Harp said, giving his opinion on the issue of gun availability.
"I'm not for repealing the Second Amendment," the pastor said, "but ... the body count for children and adults is just too high for us not to take this as a serious matter."
Mourners held hands, leaned on each other's shoulders, wiped tears from their eyes during the service. Some shouted "Amen" when Harp made his comment on handguns.
Campbell offered words of comfort to survivors and victims' families.
"Know that you are not alone," the mayor told them. "Today, we come together as one Atlanta, beyond race, beyond borders, beyond religion, in a place where heaven and earth meet, a place called faith."
The hour-long "Service of Hope and Remembrance for the City of Atlanta" also included hymns and musical performances, plus eulogies and messages of faith from speakers representing the many denominations of those who died.
Later, as the 20 victims' names were read aloud, a candle for each was lit by a family member or a representative.
The names of the three gunmen were not included.
Correspondent Tony Clark contributed to this report, written by Jim Morris
Two more Atlanta victims to be laid to rest today
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