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Lights of Hope

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By Stephen Lega

Kara Rigdon has not been seen since July 17, but she remains in the forefront of the minds of her friends, her family and her faith community. More than 100 people attended a candlelight vigil for her Saturday, Oct. 23 at Gravel Switch Baptist Church.

Hope and faith were recurring themes throughout the service - hope for Rigdon's return and faith in God.

Anna Benningfield opened the service with a rendition of "He Leadeth Me," a song about being guided by God, and Darlene Hegwood offered words of encouragement from Psalm 34:18, which reads that God is close to the broken-hearted.

Rigdon's mother, Sheila Tingle, reminded the assembly that Rigdon is a daughter, sister, mother and friend, and she is greatly missed.

"The old saying that God doesn't put more on us than we can handle is one of the hardest things for us to accept," Tingle said. "I know God will provide comfort in our time of need."

She prayed for Rigdon's safe return, but she also expressed her trust in God.

"After leaving here tonight, please keep Kara and her family in your prayers," Tingle said.

Pastor Gerald Hegwood reminded those assembled of the words of 1 Peter 5:7, which urges the faithful to cast their anxieties on God, for he cares for them.

Candles were lit throughout the church, with individuals passing the light to one another as Benningfield sang "Amazing Grace." By the end of the song, nearly everyone in attendance had joined her.

Those assembled formed a circle around the church, and Pastor Hegwood led a final prayer. He asked everyone to raise their candles and to remember Rigdon.

Everyone was implored to contact the Kentucky State Police, the Lebanon Police Department or the Marion County Sheriff's Office if they had any information, however small, that may offer a clue to Rigdon's whereabouts.

After the service, Pastor Hegwood said Rigdon had been a faithful member of the church.

"I think the turnout really shows that people are still compassionate and they all love the family," he said.

Rigdon's brother, Travis, said her family's experience has been unbearable the last few months, and it has been particularly hard on Rigdon's children, Austin, 8, and Nora, 1. But also expressed his appreciation for everyone who attended the vigil.

"It means a lot, more than what I can put in words," he said. "It really touches your heart."

Tingle received countless hugs from people as they filed out after the service.

"God has carried us through all of this, and he will continue to do so," she said. "The support of everyone locally has been wonderful."

But the most important message may have been from Austin Tingle, who wanted to send a message to his mother.

"I love you. I miss you," he said. "Please come home."

Anyone with information about Kara Rigdon's whereabouts is asked to contact the Kentucky State Police at 1 (800) 222-5555 or (270) 384-4796, the Lebanon Police Department at (270) 692-2121 or the Marion County Sheriff's Office at (270) 692-3051.