“He was a hero to many abortion clinic workers, who were aware of his incredible courage and bravery,” Ms. Turner said. “I knew him personally, so this will be a service of mourning for his wonderful life. He is the first abortion provider to put a chapel inside his clinic, and he had a chaplain on duty to work with all of his patients.”
More vigils will take place Tuesday in Atlanta and Columbia, Mo.
Lois Backus, executive director for the Philadelphia-based Medical Students for Choice, said student activists on some 137 medical school campuses across the country would use the vigils as an opportunity “to do something on their campus to recognize the loss of an important medical mentor.”
A group of religious leaders, several of them on President Obama’s faith advisory council, denounced the attack Monday morning as an attack on all religions.
“Such violence is an affront to the teachings of all faith traditions and an attack on civil society,” said a combined statement from organizations ranging from the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism to Evangelicals for Social Action and Catholics in Alliance for the Common Good.
“Houses of worship have served as sanctuaries providing a safe harbor even in times of widespread violence for millennia,” the statement said. “That this act took place in Dr. Tiller’s church, where he was serving as an usher on Sunday morning, only underscores its abhorrence.”
The signers on Mr. Obama’s council included Melissa Rogers, director of Wake Forest University Divinity School’s Center for Religion and Public Affairs, and the Rev. Joel Hunter, senior pastor of Northland, A Church Distributed in Longwood, Fla.