Candles are being lit for the victims of gunman Derrick Bird as a "dignified" way of remembering them a year after the shootings.
Members of the clergy who counselled relatives of those who died in the Dunblane gun tragedy, in 1996, suggested the idea.
It comes a year after Bird shot dead 12 people in west Cumbria before killing himself, on 2 June.
At 1200 BST, a two-minute silence was held in Whitehaven and other areas.
Victims of relatives were among hundreds of people who gathered in the grounds of St Nicholas' Church in Whitehaven.
As a bell tolled, Rev John Bannister read out the victims' names.
In Egremont about 150 people gathered at the war memorial in the market square.
People living in the affected area have been asked to put a candle in a window to remember those who died and in support of those mourning the loss of relatives and friends.
Copeland Council leader Elaine Woodburn said: "As a community it is important that we take the time to pause and reflect on the events of a year ago and remember those who are no longer with us, or whose lives were affected by what happened on that awful day."
Cumbria Police Chief Constable Craig Mackey said: "Our condolences and deepest sympathies are with the families and friends of the 12 victims and those who were seriously injured in such tragic circumstances one year ago today.
"For some, lives will never be the same and I know that, as a constabulary, we will never forget what happened in west Cumbria on 2 June 2010.
"However, our focus now is on enabling the victims, their families, the people of west Cumbria and our officers and staff to rebuild their lives and establish a new sense of normality."
Taxi driver Bird's rampage started in the early hours, when he shot his twin brother David, and continued as he drove around west Cumbria.
As well as the 12 people he killed, he wounded 11 others, before shooting himself dead later that afternoon.
The clergies of Whitehaven, Egremont, Seascale, Gosforth and surrounding areas have met a number of times since the shootings.
Archdeacon of West Cumberland, Richard Pratt, said the clergy was deeply-rooted in the community and as such could reflect how people wanted to mark the anniversary.
He said: "It became apparent that there were lots of different reactions to these events.
"For those most closely associated, it's obviously very raw and difficult for them. A number of them we know are going to be right away from the area on the day.
"However, a wider circle of people, who have lost friends and neighbours are clearly wanting to mark the event."
At one of their meetings, those in west Cumbria met clergy who were involved in the aftermath of the Hungerford and Dunblane shootings and the candle idea was suggested.
Dr Pratt said: "The idea was for something very quiet and not pushing forwards and feeling we are there for you.
"But, we want people to be very careful and safe [with the candles]".
He said the input from the Hungerford and Dunblane clergy had been very helpful.
He said: "I think it was the wisdom of people who had seen and coped with events of a similar scale.
"The fact they they had got to the other side of it and could look back."
As well as asking people in west Cumbria to light a candle, churches will be open on Thursday and Friday.
Dr Pratt said those who died would also be remembered in November on All Saints Day and All Souls Day, alongside remembering those who died in other circumstances.
He said the idea for that was to remember Bird's victims but in a context to try to avoid defining them by the way they died.
He said: "It's doing something but not too much and doing it quietly with some dignity."
Firefighter David Moore, who was one of the first on the scene of the shootings in Seascale and is a councillor with Copeland council, has helped organise a community event at the weekend.
He said: "It's about bringing the community back together as families. We will never forget but we are all pulling together for the future."