Family, friends, strangers gather at Auburn UMC for Aniah Blanchard prayer vigil


By Ashley Gooden, WBMA

Monday night dozens of people, her family included, come together at Auburn United Methodist Church to pray for Aniah Blanchard’s safe return.

The service started at 6:22, Aniah’s birthday, and provided a chance for students and community members to come together with hope.

The congregation sang two of Aniah’s favorite worship songs and after praying together as one group, split up in small groups to pray together.

Aniah’s family received hugs and words of encouragement from other family members, friends, and strangers.

“I have never been in a situation where the emotions stretched so far between hope and grief. It’s just every emotion you could ever imagine in this situation,” says Haley Tenbarge, a friend of the family.

Tenbarge has been by the family’s side every step of the way.

“For them to know that people are still aware of the story and looking for her means the world to them,” says Tenbarge, “Keep everybody hopeful that we are going to find her alive and bring her home. That is what the family is holding onto”.

Members of Texas EquuSearch, a search and rescue organization planning to help find Aniah, were also at the vigil. The founder, Tim Miller, says he goes into every search optimistically, but has a greater feeling after Monday night’s vigil.

“We’re humans, we have real tears, real emotions, and this was a very uplifting night, I think it gave us more confidence, more hope,” says Miller.

The family appreciates all of the prayers and hopes the community will continue keeping Aniah on their minds and in their hearts.

Miller says his team mapped out the area Monday and will begin searching for Aniah on Tuesday. He says they plan to let the public know if they’ll need volunteers to help cover ground.