Laguna Woods community forms choir to unite residents after 2022 church shooting

David González Image
Friday, March 8, 2024
OC community forms choir to unite residents after church shooting
Three hundred strangers living in a 55-and-older community in Orange County have come together to spread a simple message: Love your neighbor.

LAGUNA WOODS, Calif. (KABC) -- Three hundred strangers living in a 55 and older community in Orange County have come together to spread a simple message: love your neighbor.

Laguna Woods Village resident Rebeca Gilad formed the Community Bridge Builders choir after a tragedy rocked their city.

"Those things that you cannot say just in words; when you put music, it changes everything," Gilad said.

The choir is made up of residents from all backgrounds.

"It suddenly feels like angels singing and peace is possible," Gilad said. "It's all one family. This is our family. This is our home. This is our neighborhood and that's what so magic about it. It's magic."

In May 2022, a gunman walked into Geneva Presbyterian Church and opened fire on Taiwanese parishioners, killing one and injuring five others.

A shooting at a church in Orange County, which left one person dead and another five injured, was a "politically-motivated hate incident," authorities announced Monday.

Authorities said the attack was fuel by hate.

"Out of that hatred this group of people in the community got together to learn how to speak up, what to do when that happens and to stop being bystanders," Gilad said.

The choir got together to film a music video on Wednesday. The group sang a tune titled "One Song" and speaks to the power of being united as one voice.

Mitchell Jay composed the song.

"I was inspired by older songs. 'We Are The World' and 'Imagine' were kind of the two songs that inspired me and the feel that they give," Jay said.

The song is also sang in different languages including Spanish and Korean.

"Music is international language so we can say this in ten different languages, play the notes for ten different languages, it comes out the same," said Carmen Pacella, musical director of Community Bridge Builders.

The group believes the song's simple message connects people in their community who may otherwise not have an opportunity to come together.

"They're having fun and they're coming back," said Willie Phillips, who serves as Community Bridge Builders' vice president. "It's not just a joyful thing, they're having fun while they're doing this. It's a blessing to everyone in the community."

Community Bridge Builders hopes their choir inspires others to translate their message of unity into the communities one song at a time.

MORE: Prominent OC doctor killed while trying to stop Laguna Woods church shooting suspect, sheriff says

An Orange County doctor who was killed during a mass shooting at a Laguna Woods church on Sunday is being hailed a hero after he tackled the gunman and attempted to disarm him, which allowed parishioners to step in and subdue him.