Local residents mourn Orlando shootings, stand united with LGBT - WREX.com – Rockford’s News Leader

Local residents mourn Orlando shootings, stand united with LGBT community


Many across the country and right here in Rockford woke up to heart-breaking news - dozens killed and even more wounded in a Florida nightclub attack.

"It's completely heartbreaking that something like that can happen," said Megan Ford, the secretary of PFLAG Rockford.

The mass shooting at Pulse - a gay nightclub in Orlando - is stirring up reaction across Rockford.

PFLAG is a local non-profit educating the public about the LGBT community.

Organizers say violence like this shows there's more work to be done to accomplish their mission.

"I think it's just a reminder of where things are and how much we have still to grow, and learn and teach," said Phyllis Gallisath, the president of PFLAG Rockford.

"I think a lot of people tend to fear or hate what they don't understand, and a big part of PFLAG is education," Ford said.

The group is new in Rockford - but now more than ever it says it aims to provide resources and support to the gay community.

That same goal can be found at a church on the city's northeast side. 

"A quarter of our memberships are LGBT people and that's always growing and we're always welcoming new people to come here," said Bob Black, the church administrator at Spring Creek United Church of Christ.

Sunday morning's service at Spring Creek United Church of Christ is dedicated to victims of the Orlando massacre.

Members even found a place in their hearts for the person responsible.

"We always have a time of prayer during our service and of course all of the victims were mentioned during that time of prayer, as well as the shooter," Black said.

"His family, I'm sure has as many questions as all of us do, and this is a tough time for them, as well."

The open and affirming church says it's important to remember that violence has impacted so many - not just one specific group.

"Even though this feels very personal members of the LGBT community, we have to remember that we're not the only place that violent people turn to to take out their rage," Black said.

"I want us to find a different answer when we have questions than turning to violence... and today we'll pray for the LGBT community, but we're also going to continue to pray for everyone who is a victim of violence."

Violence that has now claimed more lives-- leaving our area to reflect on this loss.

The nonprofit group PFLAG will march in Rockford's 4th of July parade, and anyone who wants to is invited to march with them. For more information about PFLAG, click here.

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