HARRISBURG -- In the parking lot of New Life Full Gospel Church, middle schoolers hugged and quietly wept, as did many adults, in remembering the lives of their classmates who died in a house fire Wednesday.
The church hosted a prayer service Wednesday evening, inviting those remembering Harrisburg Middle School students Malaysia and Alaysia Peacock and their mother, Amanda Peacock, in a celebration of their lives.
As the church sanctuary filled, eventually overflowing to the hall area outside, soft sobbing could be heard, and many tissue boxes were passed to those filling the pews.
Church member Stream Black, a classmate of the Peacock sisters and fellow athlete, spoke to those in attendance, remembering good times with her friends and the frailty of life.
"When I woke up and found out some of my best friends were gone this morning, I couldn't believe it," Black said.
"They were our friends, they loved us and they cared about every one of us. We had a great basketball season, and we won regionals with the help of the twins, and we went to state.
We started the volleyball season, and now those twins that I love are not here anymore. They don't come to practice anymore."
Many teammates and classmates wept at the words.
Youth pastor Todd Jennings and Pastor Blake Clayton offered words of comfort.
"People act like it is a weakness to cry, but it's not a weakness," Clayton said. "It's a strength."
He also reminded the audience that no person is immune to tragedy.
"Just because something bad happens, it does not mean you're living apart from God," he said.
Clayton also said time will help the grieving process.
"When someone you loves dies, it hurts. I know you're hurting right now," he said.
"But these tears you are shedding right now will dissipate, and you will remember all the good times."