The Candlelight Vigil is sponsored by the Putnam County Family Support Services, Putnam County Department of Child Services, Putnam County Youth Development Commission, Mental Health America of Putnam County, Community Partners for Child Safety and Putnam County Head Start.
People gathered in the church Tuesday evening in remembrance of the 142 children who were abused or neglected in Putnam County last year. Members of the DePauw Gospel Choir sang the lyrics, "Flowing from my eyes are the issues of my heart" as participants waited for the start of the program.
Greencastle Mayor Sue Murray talked about her 25 years as a Social Worker. "Before I moved to One North Locust Street, I was a social worker. One of the most joyous things I saw was the birth of babies. The first 24 hours are wondrous but then the baby goes home and something happens," she said.
"Child abuse doesn't have anything to do with economics, race or religion. It does have to do with a parent's disappointment. Maybe they wanted a boy after three girls and didn't get one. It can be that there is no support or little parenting skill. Maybe it's drugs or alcohol. Sometimes it's mental illness," stated Murray.
"Last year 142 children were abused or neglected in the county. That's less than last year but not it's not down enough," added Murray.
"I want to thank all these dedicated volunteers. They are really trying to make a difference," she finished.
In light of thanking volunteers Cari Cox, executive director of Family Support Services, presented the 2007 Bessie Rector Award.
Each year, the PCFSS Board of Directors accepts nominations from the community for the award. Rector was a founder of the organization.
Cox said the award is given to a community member who has made continuing contributions to prevent child abuse and neglect.
This year's recipient was Lisa Bishop from Cummins Behavioral Health Systems Wrap Around Services, who thanked Cox for the award.
"I moved back to Greencastle to help kids," said Bishop. "I'm proud to be a member of this community,"
Putnam County Circuit Court Judge Matt Headley then spoke to the crowd in the church about what that 142 number means.
"It's substantial," said Headley. "It's less than one percent of the county's population. We can go lower."
Headley talked about a famous speech that Mark Twain's Huckleberry Finn has with himself in the book, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. Huck is arguing with himself about turning in the slave Jim who has saved Huck's life and been his friend. He tells himself, "I'm going to Hell, if I don't turn him in."
Huck, Headley says is wrestling with the issue of slavery. Eventually Huck decides to follow what he knows is right even if he is going to hell over it.
"People don't want to deal with abuse or report it," Headley told the room full of people. "You have to tell people it's not acceptable. If you see it (abuse) in the mall or the parking lot of Wal-Mart, you go tell people its' not acceptable," said Headley.
"If we can't stand up for these children, who will?" he asked.
"In the prevention of child abuse we have to educate, innovate and participate," he said.
Next the attendees lined the aisle to light a candle for each child.
As those in attendance lined up in quiet rows to wait their turn, Allison Edberg and Kirsten Lumsdon played the violin and cello as candle after candle was lit.
At the end of the event the church bell tolled out 92 times. Once for each county in Indiana. In the quiet of the church, people could hear the bell ringer slowly count, "ten, eleven, twelve," and on up to 92." Then in silence the crowd walked out of the sanctuary.