COEUR d'ALENE - Brad Roberts would rather have not been speaking at a vigil Sunday night outside Lake City Community Church.
He wished it hadn't been necessary.
But it was.
He could not longer stand on the sidelines, Roberts said.
"I glad you're all here," he said to around 50 people bundled up in the 25-degree temperature.
They came to honor the 20 children and six adults shot and killed on Dec. 14 at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn.
They came to mourn, to remember and to support the families of those who died that day, Roberts said.
The hour-long gathering, which started with the song "Better Days," included moments of silence, prayer, music, candles and quotes from the Bible.
And tears, too.
"We're here to show our love, our caring, and show our grief and tears," Roberts said.
"There is no higher purpose than to give of yourself to your fellow man."
The numbers of such senseless shootings, he said, are "happening at an appalling rate."
Since 2000, Roberts said there have been 77 school shootings in the U.S., 27 of those in the past two years.
Since 2000, there have been 165 young people, teachers and faculty killed in school shootings, 62 of those in the last two years.
"I don't have the answers to fix this," Roberts said. "But before we move on, I implore you to remember, we can no longer remain on the sidelines. Next time there's another act of selfish terror, there could be another town mourning for us."
Event organizer Reannan Keene of Coeur d'Alene said she hopes the vigil, which she named "A Call to Love," will help "remove the fear that's festering within our community."
The wife and mother of two said: "When our schools had to be closed because of rumors, all that is, is fear. We're so scared to death that we can't even live."
She doesn't want people to forget the victims of Sandy Hook, whose names were read Sunday night.
The answer, she said, is to fight fear with love.
"One day, all of those families, the cards are going to stop coming and the phone calls are going to stop coming. I didn't want them to feel forgotten," she said. "They're not forgotten. And on the cusp of a new year, I wanted to send them a big, big hug from Coeur d'Alene."
Zach Davis, another speaker, said the world has too many people with no hope in their hearts.
"We have so many things, we don't know what to find joy in anymore. There's no real hope for a lot of us."
The answer rests with God, he said.
"God put eternity in my heart and hope in my heart," Davis said. "In our city, in our world, all it takes is a little bit of hope from God. He can make everything come together. He can shine the light in our world, in our lives."
Davis said there has been a loss of community, and a loss of family. He called on people to "come together to help one anther, love one another, carry each others burdens, pray for one another."
Steve Bell, a Coeur d'Alene attorney, spoke of growing up in Moscow in times of unlocked doors, reading books and wholesome TV shows like "Leave it to Beaver."
Times, he said, have changed. There's been an erosion of values and respect. He was critical of Hollywood for producing so many of what he called senseless, gruesome movies. He said there was nothing good about virtual reality games so popular today where the goal is to kill as many as you can.
"I have to ask you, what's the point of this?" he said.
Like Davis, he urged people to find God. He said it was better to be biblically correct than politically correct.
People need so much love and hope in their lives that despair can't get in, Bell said.
Each of us, he said, should follow the example set in the movie, "Pay it Forward."
"In the face of this horrible tragedy, what can we give away? What can we do for someone?"
Keene, too, called on people to love others, to show they care, to listen to children, to be kind, to find their calling and follow it - to stand alone, if necessary, and stand tall.
"In the words of Robert Byrne, 'The purpose of life is a life of purpose.' I encourage you to make a difference and find yours."