Church plans vigil for slain Central York teacher and Texas shooting victims

Meredith Willse
York Dispatch

A local church organized a vigil Tuesday after a spate of recent gun violence, including incidents involving Central York High School teacher Erin Walker and a Texas elementary school.

“We just wanted to get together, pray for all of the communities that have been affected by these shootings, by the violence and really just remember them and we’re a community,” said church pastor Douglas DeStaphano.  

DeStaphano said those feeling isolated or alone will have a chance to remember there are good people in the world.

“We just need to remind ourselves that there are good people, there are good things in this world,” he said.  

The congregation also wants to remind the community, and surrounding communities, that there are people who care about them.  

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This started because the church’s council wanted to help people, DeStaphano said. There are children in the congregation and it’s unimaginable what those affected families are going through.  

The pastor recalls participating in a Prayer for Peace after Sept. 11, 2001, when the World Trade Center Towers were attacked. DeStephano hopes to continue doing these prayers but also hopes to never need one again.  

Community members mourn the loss of social studies teacher Erin Walker, 36, with a memorial of flowers and heart-felt notes at Central York High School in Springgettsbury Township, Monday, May 23, 2022. According to police, Walker was fatally shot in an apparent murder-suicide following a dispute Saturday. The neighbor, Daniel Berry, 59, then turned the gun on himself. Dawn J. Sagert photo

“But I suspect we will in the future,” he added.  

The church will also be collecting money for Walker’s daughter, Charlea. Any money collected may be given to the GoFundMe page, The Erin Walker Memorial. 

The Prayer for Peace is 7 p.m. Tuesday at Friedensaal Evangelical Lutheran Church, 9138 White Church Road, Seven Valleys. 

— Reach Meredith Willse at mwillse@yorkdispatch.com or on Twitter at @MeredithWillse.

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