“I thought, ‘What is God trying to say to us through this tragedy?'” he said.

Suddenly, an answer came to Mondaine, who decided to start a national campaign to unite churches across “denominational lines” to take a stand against school violence.

On Saturday, he plans to bring 50 to 100 members of his congregations to Lancaster, where they’ll be joined by churchgoers and religious organizations from around the country.

The gathering, to be called “The Voices of a Thousand Angels,” will take place at Bright Side Baptist Church in Lancaster city. “The campaign will unite church leaders who want to take responsibility for our children and take a stand against violence in schools,” said Mondaine’s associate, Antjuan Tolbert.

“This campaign was put together only two weeks ago, and already we’ve heard from almost 200 churches across the country,” Elliot said.

“We’re hoping to come together and figure out a way to educate our people and look at the mental-health and violence issues in our communities.”

After church and community leaders meet, participants will convene by candlelight near the village of Nickel Mines, singing hymns and praising God.

But Elliot stresses the group will not in any way disturb the residents of the Bart Township community. “We visited Lancaster last week to get a better view of the area,” he said. “We met with some churches in Lancaster and began speaking with an Amish spokesperson – Herman Bontrager.”

Elliot said the meetings proved to be fruitful and affected how the “Voices of a Thousand Angels” was planned.

“At first, we thought we’d hold the gathering closer to the Nickel Mines community,” Tolbert said. “But then we thought a less invasive approach was better. We understand the Amish community values privacy.”And though the gathering will end up in Bart Township, Mondaine said, the group’s attire and conduct will be within the behavior codes adhered to by the Amish people.

More information about “Voices of a Thousand Angels” can be found at www.edmondaine.com. “It’s time for the church to once again take the lead in teaching our children social responsibility,” Mondaine said. “It’s not through legislation and governmental interference that this shift must occur, but through example and the raw proof given from a united faith community.”

The Nickel Mines community also has inspired an event called “Prayer at Binns Park,” to be led by Lancaster city pastors. The prayer rally will take place Tuesday. Lancaster County church leaders and members plan to walk from North to South Queen Street, then to East and West King Street before ending at Binns Park.

There also will be a time of prayer at 7:30 p.m. Friday at the Mennonite School auditorium on Lincoln Highway East. Elliot said the Nickel Mines tragedy obviously struck a chord with a lot of people, whether they are from Lancaster County or not.

“The way the Amish community dealt with this tragic situation has been amazing,” he said. “And, overall, we found Lancaster to have a certain welcoming air, with genuine people.” Mondaine reflected on the young lives lost.

“They were sacrificed,” he said. “If we let their sacrifice go unseen and unheard, something’s wrong with us.”

Carla Di Fonzo Intelligencer Journal Staff