A Fayetteville church gathered Sunday morning to honor the 26 victims of the Sandy Hook Elementary shooting, and one victim held a special place in the church's heart.
Jesse Lewis, 6, was one of the 20 children killed Friday. His grandfather, David E. Lewis, is a member of the St. Paul Episcopal Church and a dear friend of its reverend.
Stunned and horrified are the words Rev. Lowell Grisham used Sunday morning when describing the mass shooting; a tragedy that struck closer to our community than some may realize.
"David Lewis who grew up in this church and with his brothers, David's oldest daughter, Scarlett, lives in Newtown, and her youngest child, Jesse, was one of the children who was killed there," Rev. Grisham said. "David and I have become very good friends. We are in a group that meets once a month together and we connect pretty regularly."
Rev. Grisham was with Lewis just hours before news of the shooting broke.
"We had actually been together Friday morning for about three hours at a group that we meet with once a month and as soon as I heard I went over to the house. David and I visited Friday afternoon and talked," Rev. Grisham said.
During the 11 a.m. church service Sunday, Rev. Grisham said a prayer for each child and adult who lost their life at Sandy Hook Elementary on Friday morning.
"We believe that every person is an infinitely loved child of God. So, to name them in a holy prayer is an intimate way of saying thank you to God and commending their lives to God," said Rev. Grisham.
The last several years have been tough for the Lewis family.
David lost his brother John back in 2007, and Rev. Grisham officiated the memorial service, which was attended by Scarlett and Jesse, then just a baby. Rev. Grisham described David as a person of deep acceptance, trust and forgiveness.
"He forgave the person who shot his grandchild, he knows how important it is to be able to forgive in order for us to be free,” Rev. Grisham said.
Family member Jay Lewis told 5NEWS that Jesse's mother, Scarlett, lived in Fayetteville in 1995 before moving to Connecticut. Lewis said he drove David, his uncle, to the airport Saturday morning so the grieving grandfather could be with his daughter in Connecticut.