Hoping to start a movement to stop violence on the city's southeast side, a small consortium of churches based there has planned six community prayer walks every Friday through Aug. 17.
On Thursday, more than 100 people attended a community prayer service at Pilgrim Baptist Church on Gay Street, where the names of this year's 24 homicide victims were read out loud by Pilgrim's pastor, Raymond C. Dix Jr.
“I want to read these names,” Dix said, “because they have value. These were God's children.”
The service was organized after four young black men were killed in the week leading up to July 4. Other pastors appearing on the dais included the Rev. Timothy Lake of Union Baptist Church, the Rev. Joe Johns, senior pastor of Fellowship Missionary Church, and the Rev. Bill McGill of Imani Baptist Temple.
“We pray for our entire city, but especially for this 131/2square miles called the southeast side, our beloved southeast side, that is not experiencing that peace,” Johns said from the pulpit, referring to a passage from Jeremiah 29:7 on seeking peace in the city. “Now is a moment when peacemakers in the city are called,” he added.
Lake called out the names of some of the streets on the southeast side, well known to the people who filled the pews.
“Hanna Street, Eliza Street, Smith Street, Pontiac Street, Lafayette and Broadway; ... we have the power to convert them into a city of Zion,” Lake preached. “We pray against the violence that has reared its ugly head. We're not going to stand idly by and watch blood run in our streets.”
Toward the end of the prayer service, Dix asked people to gather in small groups to pray for the city. Denise Porter and Elizabeth Brown were in a group of about 10 women whose prayer focused on children and the next generation.
“And we pray for the children separated from their parents,” Brown prayed, saying later she was praying for those children at the U.S. southern border waiting to be reunited with their parents.
McGill said the prayer service would be the “first step of numerous steps where we address the principality. When the devil knows you're serious, he takes you seriously.”
Community Prayer Walks are planned for six Fridays beginning July 13. All walks are scheduled to begin at 6:30 p.m.
July 13: 4220 Hanna St.
July 20: Hanna Homestead Park/Lewis and Gay streets
July 27: Corner of Butler and Barr streets
Aug. 3: Weisser Park
Aug. 10: 2632 Chestnut St.
Aug. 17: St. John Baptist Church parking lot, Hanna Street; this walk will have a back-to-school theme