A local church has dedicated a season's worth of prayers to the people struck by the Sandy Hook tragedy in Newtown, Conn.
The Rev. Melanie Harrell Delaney, pastor of Good Shepherd Christian Church in Macedonia, challenged her congregation to mark the season of Advent this year by folding 1,000 origami cranes as a symbol of 1,000 prayers for peace in families, neighborhoods and around the world.
News of the Dec. 14 school shooting in Connecticut caused the church members to decide to deliver them to the people of Newtown. The congregation has since folded more than 1,350 cranes and planned to dedicate their prayers at a special Christmas Eve service. Some members stayed after service on Sundays to learn how to fold and create the sculptures, one after another. Others folded the cranes at home, with instructions from YouTube videos.
Delaney said the gesture is meant to put "action to our words."
"This is just to show them that they aren't alone and they are surrounded by prayers," she said. "We've been praying for peace for a long time now. It was time we prayed with our hands and feet, too."
The folding of paper cranes for peace grew from the life of Hiroshima survivor Sadako Sasaki, a 2-year-old girl who lived one mile from ground zero when the atomic bomb went off in 1945. According to the city of Hiroshima's account, Sadako apparently survived the bombing with no ill effects, until she developed leukemia nine years later. The little girl then began folding paper cranes in hopes they would help her recover. She folded hundreds of the sculptures, but eventually succumbed.
According to the city, Sadako's death triggered a campaign to build a monument to pray for world peace and the peaceful repose of the many children killed by the atomic bomb.
Delaney said her congregation was inspired by the story, and saddened by the news of the shootings in Newtown.
"We want the people to know our prayers are with them," she said. "One thousand colorful cranes for peace will be waiting for them when they are ready to return."