LEWISTON — Martins Mata only arrived in Lewiston about two months ago, but he was among the attendees Friday at a large vigil in Kennedy Park organized by several local churches.

Mata, who is from Angola, attends Thomas Memorial Baptist Church in Lewiston. He was waiting for his wife and some friends to arrive Friday and said he just wanted to support the community.

He said news of the shooting left him shaken, especially so soon after arriving in Maine, which has been known as one of the safest places in the world. When he began speaking about seeing photos of the victims and their families, he got emotional.

“It’s just sad,” he said. “And for no reason.”

Mata was among a few hundred people at the multi-church prayer service and vigil Friday afternoon organized by several local churches over the last week.

Micah Lang, pastor at Redemption Hill Church in Lewiston, said that just a couple days after the Oct. 25 shooting, he and a few other church leaders started a group chat about doing something for the community. It eventually grew to a dozen churches getting involved.


Lang said some of the churches had congregation members who died in the shootings, with even more family and friends who were impacted.

“In a community like ours, it’s all connected,” he said.

On one of the paths through the park, 18 signs were placed with the names of each victim. Attendees were encouraged to walk by and perhaps visit one of several prayer stations that were set up. Another sign asked people to pray for the Card family.

Lang said that as they were setting up the signs, another organizer commented, “there’s too many.” He said when all of them are spread out over a long walkway, it really drives home the scale of the tragedy.

“As Christians, we believe there’s hope even among times like this, and there’s healing we just want to offer the city,” Lang said.

Some groups set up tables with food including hot dogs and hot apple cider. A musician played gospel songs. A few kids traversed the park on scooters.

Pedro Mpaluco, who said he is Muslim, knows Mata from Lewiston Adult Education. He said he came to the park “to practice love.”

“Even one person killed is too many,” he said.

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