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Candlelight Vigil Held for “One Valley United”
Written by Bradley Schlegel, Staff Writer
2017-10-18

            More than 400 people participated in the silent candlelight vigil Sunday night at Pennsburg's main intersection, according to Terri Kiral-Kuenzer, one of six event organizers for the event titled, "One Valley United." She called it a gathering of solidarity in response to the recent racist mailings.

            "We wanted to show equality and compassion for all the people in the community," said Kiral-Kuenzer, a Pennsburg resident.

            Participants from Phoenixville, Harleysville, Allentown, Perkasie, Souderton and Quakertown joined with Upper Perkiomen Valley residents to surround all four corners at the intersection of Routes 29 and 663, according to Kiral-Kuenzer.  "It was a wonderful event," she said.

            Single-file lines along each sidewalk stretched at least 100 people long, according to Chuck Romanowski, pastor of St. Mark's Lutheran Church at Pennsburg. He said they stood silently, or spoke softly with the people near them, for approximately 45 minutes before dispersing around 7 p.m.

            "There were no speeches," said Romanowski, who observed multiple families with school-aged children.  "It was good to see so many people."

            He said the event was necessary for the community to demonstrate that malice towards Jews or people of color will not be tolerated.  "There's no place in the Valley for hatred like that," Romanowski said.

            According to Kiral-Kuenzer, the vigil intended to "shine a light on the darkness that came with these mass mailings." She said they wanted it to be known that "this is something we do not condone."

            Kiral-Kuenzer said the event's organizers – which included Chelsea Cornwell, Kelly Cox, Rev. Barbara Pence, Susan Royer and Cathy Sweeney – connected on social media late in the afternoon on Oct. 10, soon after receiving the white supremacist messages in the mail.  She said a few people who remembered a similar event at a town square 15 years earlier, floated the idea among friends of holding an event on the weekend.

By 8 p.m. that night, the six women had come up with the name, location and time for the event, according to Kiral-Kuenzer.  The next morning, they contacted several ministers, who expressed their support. She said local government and law enforcement officials were informed the same day.

"The whole thing was very organic," Kiral-Kuenzer said.


 

 

 

 

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