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From behind his pulpit on Sunday morning, the Rev. Parker Reardon, pastor of the small Newtown Bible Church on the outskirts of town, paused for a moment during his sermon, looking out toward his congregation as members embraced one another and fought off the urge to weep.

“I haven’t gotten a lot of sleep the past few nights. I can’t even remember if we’ve already prayed. If we have, then we’ll pray again,” he said, again leading the churchgoers in prayer only minutes after already doing so at the beginning of his remarks.

Like others in this affluent community, Mr. Reardon flatly admitted, “I don’t know what to say,” echoing the sentiments of others still unable to fully explain Friday’s events.

Newtown’s pastors understood that, on this day, no amount of preparation or study would prepare them for the flood of grief and sadness that would pour through their doors. Those feelings are only beginning to bubble to the surface, 48 hours after the gunman took the lives of 20 young children and six adults at Sandy Hook.

“I don’t think today is going to be a regular service,” said the Rev. Jim Orefice, associate pastor at Newtown’s Connections Church, as churchgoers began filtering in for 10 a.m. service.

Still shaken from the massacre, Newtown mostly was quiet on Sunday morning, with the exception of those making their way to services.

At St. Rose, parishioners stopped at small makeshift memorials just outside the church’s entrance. Much like downtown’s Christmas tree tribute, there were not only candles, but also stuffed animals and other reminders of the childhood innocence represented by many of the victims at Sandy Hook, less than two miles from St. Rose.

Handwritten signs and banners with messages of sympathy increasingly appeared in Newtown over the weekend. As drivers exited Interstate 84 and headed toward the town’s historic district, they were greeted by a sign with the words “Pray for Newtown.”

In the historic district, another hand-drawn message read: “We are a family Newtown.”

Homes displayed similar messages on their front porches, from windows and on mailboxes. Attendees of Sunday night’s vigil passed another chilling memorial on the way to Newtown High School, with small angels representing each of the victims erected on the side of the road.

The families of the victims have over the past 24 hours begun to speak out and pay tribute to their loved ones. Friday’s tragedy, already impossible to put into words, has become even more heart-wrenching as photographs of those young victims surface. One such child is Daniel Barden, described by family members as a “constant source of joy and laughter.”

“Everyone who has ever met Daniel remembers and loves him. Words really cannot express what a special boy Daniel was. Such a light. Always smiling, unfailingly polite, incredibly affectionate, fair and so thoughtful towards others, imaginative in play, both intelligent and articulate in conversation,” reads a statement released by Daniel’s family.

“He embodied everything that is wholesome and innocent in the world. Our hearts break over losing him and for the many other families suffering loss. We thank our friends, family and the community for their prayers and support that we have received,” they said.

Robbie Parker, the father of 6-year-old victim Emilie Parker, spoke to reporters on Saturday afternoon and said that “this world is a better place” because his daughter had been in it.

In a remarkable moment of compassion, Mr. Parker also offered words of sympathy to the family of the shooter.

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