More than 400 people gathered Thursday night to pray for the safe return of and offer comfort to his family.
The support from the people who came to in Bridgeville didn’t surprise the Slack family more than two weeks after the 25-year-old disappeared.
“It’s meant a whole lot to our family,” said Jim Slack, who is the missing man’s father. “I expected this. All of my friends and people have come out to try to help find my son, and that’s why we’re here: To get the word out to find Jimmy.”
The family wore yellow ribbons to show solidarity and spent time speaking to those in attendance following the hour-long vigil. Every seat in the lower level of the church was taken, prompting many to stand in the back or sit in the second floor gallery.
“As the family can see, the support and encouragement is overwhelming,” said the Rev. John Hamilton, the senior pastor at Bethany who .
Hamilton read from scriptures, offered prayers and discussed how the gathering was an “expression of hope” that Slack will return home safely so they could “hug him and then smack him.”
following a concert at Stage AE in Pittsburgh. that would explain Slack's disappearance and help locate him.
“We feel helpless, but we’re not hopeless,” Hamilton said.
Many in the crowd dabbed their eyes with tissues, especially when Slack’s two sisters spoke about what the community’s support has meant for their family.
“We’re here tonight to ask for strength and courage and peace,” Maureen Shields said as she and her sister, Laura, clutched each other.
As the family stood during part of the vigil, the missing man’s mother, Donna Slack, hugged Jim Slack and closed her eyes. After the prayer service, the vigil moved downstairs as people gathered in a circle with candles to pray and sing.
Donna Slack greeted friends and discussed how difficult the past two weeks have been, although she’s also been comforted by people doing everything they can to find her son.
“The comfort was people looking for him and genuinely caring about him,” she said. “I wouldn’t have been able to do this (without them).”
As Hamilton stood and watched friends talk to the family, he just shook his head about the mystery surrounding Slack’s disappearance.
“There’s some things we just don’t understand,” he said. “We just can do what we can do. A huge part of that is just for them to feel support and bonding and to have this outreach.”
This story originally appeared on Chartiers Valley Patch.