Nevada church helps bring community together after middle school shooting
Sparks, Nevada
By Sarah Glass for NCN News
The Sparks, Nevada, Church of the Nazarene held a special prayer service Thursday night for community members affected by this week's middle school shooting. 

On Monday morning, a 12-year-old student at Sparks Middle School shot two classmates and a teacher before killing himself. The two students sustained non-life threatening injuries and the teacher was killed.
 
The middle school is located just three blocks from Sparks church. Lead Pastor Brad Dyrness also serves as a chaplain with the Sparks Police Department and was on the scene of Monday's tragic shooting.

"After police questioned students who witnessed the shooting, I and several others reunited them with their parents," Dyrness said. "I walked several students who attend our church back to their parents."

While many community gatherings took place in the wake of the shooting, the Sparks church event was the only prayer-focused outlet. More than 300 people attended the service, including the local mayor and members of other denominations and faiths.

Led by community youth leaders and students, participants prayed for the shooter, his family, the wounded students, and the teacher who lost his life.

Candles were an important part of the prayer service.

"The candles are a physical representation of a spiritual principle," Dyrness said. "The world is often a very dark place, but light shines in the darkness and the darkness can never extinguish it (John 1:5)."

Three local pizza restaurants provided a free meal.

"The meal gave students the opportunity to talk, share life," Dyrness said. "Schools have been closed since Monday, so many of the students haven't seen each other since then."

Students were also given the opportunity to write prayers and messages of encouragement on a banner that will welcome the middle school back to classes this Monday.

Community pastors and counselors were available to talk with attendees after the service.

Continued prayer is requested for those affected by the shooting, as well as the Sparks church as it continues to be a light in its community.
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