Music and reflection at candlelight vigil

Published 10:30 am Friday, October 12, 2012

A group of citizens, law enforcement officials and others gathered at the First Methodist Church on Thursday night to honor the victims of domestic violence in Georgia.

The Friendship House of Jesus Children’s Choir, led by Johnny Payne, sang three inspirational songs. Perhaps most moving was the children’s interpretive dancing to the gospel song, “I Need You to Survive,” made popular by Hezekiah Walker.

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Part of the lyrics had special importance to Thursday night’s candelight vigil: “It is will, that every need be supplied / You are important to me, I need you to survive.”

Josh Paske, administrative director of the Friendship House, said children — like the ones that attend Friendship House’s after-school and summer programs — are part of the key to ending domestic violence.

“Domestic violence affects everyone in the home,” Paske said. “Children learn behavior from those around them. To stop the cycle of violence, we need to educate them that abuse — whether it be physical, verbal or mental — is not acceptable.”

Paske also said it was important to let victims of domestic violence know that there is hope. He read Psalms 30 from the Bible, which states in part:

“I will exalt you, Lord, for you lifted me out of the depths and did not let my enemies gloat over me. Lord my God, I called to you for help, and you healed me” (New International Version).

Marie Stapleton, a teacher with Decatur County Schools, sang two inspirational songs, including the gospel favorite, “Amazing Grace.”

Everyone in attendance lit small candles in the dim light of the Methodist Church’s J.O. Smith Activities Building, as the names of 53 Georgians who died as a result of domestic violence last year were read by local children’s advocates, Nan McIntosh and Dan Provence.

Rev. Sandra D. Yates, the associate pastor of Nelson Chapel A.M.E. Church in Bainbridge, spoke opening and closing prayers.

Larry Nichols, the chairman of Decatur County Citizens Against Domestic Violence, also gave remarks and welcomed victims of abuse to share their personal testimonies.

Several sheriff’s deputies attended the candlelight vigil, including Capt. Liz Croley, the victims’ advocate for the Sheriff’s Office.

Croley said Friday that her agency is very active in supporting victims.

“We have a victims’ advocate on-call 24 hours a day to respond to assist victims after domestic violence incidents,” Croley said. “We work with victims from the time of the incident until their court appearance, and help refer them to counseling, shelter and other resources that are available.”

Anyone who is in an abusive situation and desires help can call Croley at the Sheriff’s Office at (229) 248-3044, email her at or visit the Sheriff’s Office website at for more information.