The Rev. Michael Sullivan

In keeping with its name and its history, Holy Innocents’ Episcopal Church in Sandy Springs plans an overnight vigil and requiem Mass to memorialize Georgia children who died during the past year from violence or abuse.

The Jan. 23 Mass to remember “the innocent children of our day” will be the first held by Holy Innocents’, church officials said, but they intend to make such a service an annual event.

“What we want to do is remember the children who have died, but, more, to say we will not stand for violence against children,” said the Rev. Michael Sullivan, rector of Holy Innocents’.

Sullivan said church members gathered the names from a variety of agencies. They collected more than 700 names, he said, many more than they had expected.

“I was just blown away,” Sullivan said. “We really did think we were talking about a couple of dozen.”

Starting at sundown Jan. 22, Holy Innocents’ will host a vigil for Georgia children who died from violent acts, from abuse, while homeless or in traffic accidents, Sullivan said. The vigil will last until about 7 a.m. the next day.

During the night, parishioners will light candles and read the first names of the children and then provide time for prayer on their behalf, Sullivan said.

Then, at 4 p.m. on Jan. 23, the church will hold the requiem Mass.

“The requiem itself will be a service [saying] that these children are in the hands of God,” Sullivan said.

Church officials decided to hold the special service to connect the church with its roots. The church, which takes its name from the Biblical story in which young children were slain, organized in 1872 to serve widows and orphans after the Civil War, the church says. The church moved to Sandy Springs in 1954.

Joe Earle

Joe Earle is Editor-at-Large. He has more than 30-years of experience with daily newspapers, including the Atlanta Journal-Constitution and was Managing Editor of Reporter Newspapers.