Community unites at service for missing girl April Jones
A Welsh community came together in prayer this morning in an emotionally charged service in honour of missing April Jones.
A procession of up to 1,000 people walked slowly through the town of Machynlleth, as normal life came to a standstill.
Hundreds gathered at the Bryn-y-Gog estate from where April was abducted on Monday evening.
With crowds wearing pink ribbons symbolising the faith many still have that the girl remains alive, the procession moved in subdued silence through the town.
Roads along the route were closed off as the sombre gathering inched its way slowly to St Peter’s Church at the heart of the mid Wales market town.
The five-year-old schoolgirl’s abduction has shaken the small mid Wales community to the core.
The service today is seen as the start of a process aimed at healing the community.
Speaking before today’s ceremony, Reverend Kathleen Rogers said: “The realisation is coming on since yesterday when we heard murder - that has hit home.”
Inside the church, Reverend Rogers addressed the congregation, as she offered prayers for April’s parents Coral (40) and Paul (44) who did not attend the ceremony.
She said: “We cannot bring little April, our sweet and innocent little girl, home as we had hoped.”
“But our hope has now been moved on to sure and certain hope that she is in the arms of Jesus.
“Coral and Paul may not be with us this morning but we hold them very close in our hearts as we pray for them.
“There are hundreds of people today searching our town, our countryside, our river. Many hundreds more have been searching this last week.
“We thank them and we pray for them as they came to us in our hour of need and they continue to be with us.”
Reverend Rogers said that a service had also been held for the search workers at the local leisure centre this morning.
He then read a touching poem on behalf of April’s mother called “Mum”.
Bishop of Bangor, Reverend Andy John, said the tight-knit community had “touched the heart of people around the world”.
He said emails had been received from as far afield as South Africa and New Zealand - and a church in Texas had even made a donation.
Reverend John extended his thanks to those who had helped including the “extraordinary effort” of mountain rescue teams.
“I want to thank the police for their professional dedication and we’re glad that they’re here for us,” he added.
He said members of the media have also shown their “deeply caring” side and he thanked them for telling the story of the town.