Furthering a kind gesture extended by a church in Newtown, Connecticut, the First Congregational Church of Santa Barbara on Monday will be sending 1,000 peace cranes — received after the Isla Vista murders — to the Everett United Church of Christ near Marysville, Washington, where four high school students were killed in a shooting spree last month.
The church in Newtown folded the 1,000 cranes delivered to the Santa Barbara church after its congregation had received cranes passed along from Ohio and Wisconsin before that, said Rev. Allysa De Wolf of First Congregational. “The cranes themselves are a symbol of a hope for peace,” De Wolf said. (The tradition comes from Japan, where an ancient mysticism says cranes live for 1,000 years.) “They’re sent both as a way to say we know what you’re going through and hope for healing,” De Wolf continued. “We hope that one day our world and our country will have peace and this will stop happening.”
De Wolf said First Congregational didn’t alter the cranes they received in any way and will be sending them to Washington on Monday. On Sunday, all 100 members of the church were invited to help create their own assortment of cranes, which De Wolf said will remain there “until, sadly, something else happens.” Letters, along with a prayer shawl knitted by church members, will accompany the paper birds.
De Wolf said the Isla Vista cranes proved especially meaningful to her, as she accepted the Santa Barbara job when the rampage happened — and after working for three years in Newtown. When the Sandy Hook shooting occurred, she said, she was in her second of three years working at a church there. Out of that atrocity, she said, the community came together. “Out of this horrible situation, [they said], ‘We’re going to choose love.’” And the cranes sent from Connecticut to California will now head north to Washington. “They will fly away to help another community,” De Wolf said.