Several hundred people gathered outside Champions Centre Church in Tacoma on Sunday evening, part of a candlelight vigil for the four officers who were slain that morning in Parkland.

Several hundred people gathered outside Champions Centre Church in Tacoma on Sunday evening, part of a candlelight vigil for the four officers who were slain that morning in Parkland.

Prayers were offered for the Lakewood police officers, their families, and the shocked and grieving community.

The pastors spoke of the need for hope in the face of tragedy, and challenged the gathered people to commit their lives to something meaningful.

“Let’s ask how we can love more, be better parents, and how we can be better citizens,” said lay speaker Eric Van Alstine.

Lead pastor Kevin Gerald said that while none of the officers were members of the congregation, the church was moved to hold the vigil in support of other church members who are in the law- enforcement and firefighting community.

“We hope in a time like this the church can be there for the needs of community,” Gerald said.

Stephanie James, a church member and the wife of a Lakewood police officer, cried while the crowd sang “Amazing Grace.” She said she was at church this morning when she learned of the officers’ death.

“We were just flabbergasted,” she said. “There are no words that I can come up with to explain.”

Enumclaw police Officer Tony Ryan was among the half-dozen or so officers who attended. Afterward, he and his colleagues were surrounded by throngs of people who wanted to hug them or shake their hands and thank them for their service.

The gratitude was appreciated but it didn’t take away the pain, Ryan said.

“It doesn’t matter who it is or what agency, we’re a big family and this hurts,” he said.

Other community members left flowers and cards of condolences and appreciation near the scene of the shooting. One poster taped to a utility pole was decorated with a drawing of a police badge with a black band across the badge. The poster read, “We love you! Our prayers are with you!”

Seattle Times reporter Sara Jean Green and news researcher Miyoko Wolf contributed to this report. Christine Clarridge: 206-464-8983 or cclarridge@seattletimes.com