Church hosts Caylee Anthony memorial

ORLANDO, Fla. (BP)--A memorial service for Caylee Anthony, a 2-year-old whose murder has been in the news since her disappearance last July, will be hosted by First Baptist Church in Orlando, Fla., Feb. 10.

The mother, Casey Anthony, 22, has been accused of killing the toddler. She is being held in the Orlando County Jail without bail. Her daughter's remains were found Dec. 11.

First Baptist's senior pastor, David Uth, reflecting on the memorial service for Caylee in a news release, stated:

"I believe God placed First Baptist Church of Orlando here in Central Florida to make a difference in this community, and to love this community. We believe our purpose is to be a lighthouse, especially in difficult and dark times. One of those times is now as we have all been saddened by the death of Caylee Anthony.

"As a church, we want to provide hope, healing and the opportunity to experience God's love. We believe that hosting the service will give us the opportunity to minister to a family in need and to a community that is hurting because of the loss of this precious child."

The 10 a.m. Tuesday service in First Baptist's 5,000-seat worship center will be open to the public.

Caylee's grandmother, Cindy Anthony, released a eulogy for Caylee in the Orlando Sentinel Feb. 8, which stated, "The family is requesting that those with only the purest of hearts and truly honorable intentions attend the service for their beloved child. This service will be a tribute to her life and a time for her family and friends to finally be together to openly express and share their love for her."

Cindy Anthony and her husband George are members of Eastside Baptist Church in Orlando.

The Sentinel reported Feb. 9 that "people from as far away as California and New York" have stated their intention to attend the memorial service, which will be conducted by Shane Stutzman, former pastor at Eastside.

The eulogy for Caylee also stated:

"For those who fell in love with Caylee Marie on national TV, their grief is only temporary, their hearts will soon mend, and their memory of her may eventually fade. But for those who actually had the honor to meet Caylee Marie, it will be much more difficult for them to say goodbye, and their hearts may never heal.

"On Aug. 9, 2005, God blessed this Earth with one of his most beautiful children. Caylee Marie was born at 7:14 a.m. in an Orlando hospital. From the moment she was born she forever stole the hearts of her family. Caylee was not only a beautiful baby, but she had a beautiful spirit that will live on in those that truly knew her and loved her."

The media glare has taken a toll particularly on George Anthony, 57, who was hospitalized Jan. 23 after threatening to commit suicide. He was released Feb. 3 and is undergoing outpatient counseling, the Sentinel reported.

The eulogy noted that the family has requested that donations be made in lieu of flowers to Eastside Baptist Church, 1900 Conway Gardens Road in Orlando; Orlando Rescue Mission; or Kid Finders Network.


Compiled by Baptist Press editor Art Toalston.

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