Grieving Cults community gathers for vigil in Church

Vigil at Cults
Teenagers sat on floors and stairs to attend the crowded vigil for Baillie Gwynne at Cults Parish Church. Photo courtesy of Andrew Milligan / Press Association

Hundreds of people came to Cults Parish Church Thursday evening for a candlelight vigil to mourn the loss of Bailey Gwynne.

Pupils, parents, teachers and community members affected by the tragedy, poured out their emotion by lighting candles, hanging prayers on a lighted prayer tree and writing messages expressing their grief on message boards in the church.

As the crowd filled the room many of the young people simply sat down in the aisles or on stairs next to the altar.

"We don't want to fill the vigil time with words," said Rev Ewen Gilchrist ahead of the vigil.

"We won't tell people what to feel or what to think. But we do want to provide a safe and healing place where people can bring their hurt, their bewilderment, their questions, their sadness and even their anger."

Words of comfort and faith came from five different Christian denominations of speakers. Many of them know pupils well through their work for the school chaplaincy team.

Dougie Simpson of Deeside Christian Fellowship spoke of what he said was the shortest verse in the Bible, but also one of the most profound. It comes after Jesus was told of the death of a friend, he said, and reads:

"Jesus wept."

God feels our sadness, and cares deeply, he told the community.

Other speakers dwelled on First Corinthians and its message of love.

Earlier in the day small groups of pupils could be seen walking together in the town. Teenagers were a constant presence outside the school gate, coming and going with flowers, notes, photographs--and even leaving a drawing of Bailey.

The 16-year-old died Tuesday after being stabbed during the school day. Another teen has been charged in the case.

Messages left in the Church and outside the school expressed profound sorrow for Bailey's family and feelings of disbelief and loss.

Some messages also said that as well as grief for Bailey and his family they felt sad too for the other teenager and his family.

The Youth Moderator Hannah Mary Goodlad, who lives in the area and has family connections to the school, spoke to BBC and STV crews about her gratitude that Church members could offer comfort to the whole community.

"As the Church of Scotland that is what we are called to do," she said. "We are called to support the community."

After the vigil the chaplains along with Church elders and Church members, stayed in the Church to comfort some of the teens who were inconsolable over their loss.

Mr Gilchrist said the Church will remain open today, Friday 30 October, for anyone who needs sanctuary, healing, or just a quiet place to rest.