VOLUSIA COUNTY, Fla. -- A New Smyrna Beach Church is remembering the victims involved in the Pulse Shooting.

  • Church rings bell 49 times for victims
  • Rainbow flag flown for equality
  • Ceremony to be held annually

It's the second year the church rang the bell 49 times for the victims and the church hopes these ceremonies will shed light on gun violence issues.

The sound of a bell rang out at noon on Tuesday.

"This is the tolling of the bell for the 49 who died one by one," said Vern Whittenburg, Chairman of Worship, United Church of Christ of New Smyrna Beach.

Vern Whittenburg remembers sitting among the congregation the morning the shooting at Pulse happened.

"I was horrified. Its a deeply ingrained memory in the hearts and minds of this congregation," said Whittenburg.

Members of the United Church of Christ of New Smyrna Beach say its a church that was built on equality. Tuesday, members rang the bell to remember lives of people who never stepped foot in the church.

"We don't know these young people, these beautiful people who died that night. We share a common humanity regardless of sexual orientation or practice we acknowledge that all of our children of God," said Whittenburg.


 The church posted rainbow flags outside.

"Its the rainbow flag and this church celebrates that all are welcome," said Whittenburg.

 A video tribute was played and those in attendance also took communion.  Each life was remembered with a small ceremony requested by the victim's mothers.

Attendees said they were touched by the ceremony.

"It's sad to think that people can't get along and to remember these people that, they were just trying to have some fun," said Marion Lang, church member.

Whittenburg is hoping now the highlight of the victim's lives will be to make change.

"I'm hoping that this will be part of a wider awakening by people the need to act about gun violence," said Whittenburg.

The church said it plans to host this event every year. Mosques and temples also participated Tuesday.