Monday, March 21, 2016

Tragedy and a Prayer Walk

March 18, 2016, was a Friday seemingly like any other, but this one brought tragedy to the community surrounding my church. Allen Jacobs, a police officer was shot by Deontea Mackey, who was only 17 years old. Shortly after that he turned the gun on himself. The officer never even unsnapped his holster. The two have died of their injuries.

My heart goes out to the families of both of the deceased, and the community is grieving right along with them. When I heard about it Friday afternoon I prayed for all involved, as that is all I knew to do.

At present we only rent the church building. Friday evening, our Stations of the Cross service was canceled, and the other church met for a vigil service. Deontea's mother was there being comforted by those in attendance. They also grieve for Jacobs, who was known in the community. 

Our church is mostly white, even though we would love to see more diversity of color in the congregation. Interestingly, the church neighborhood is mostly black. Some people might think it odd that we chose this particular place to meet. I think God put us here, because we need to see each other not as black and white, but as human beings who can work together to bring about unity and share God's love with each other. 

Perhaps this incident has opened that door a little bit wider.

Today, after our Palm Sunday service, we went to the fellowship room for snacks as usual. Then, our priest in training, who happens to be black, made an announcement. He said they wanted to take a prayer walk through the neighborhood and invited us to join them. Right away I nudged my husband and indicated that this was something I'd really like to do.

I didn't realize how much it would impact me.

We were an interesting crew, about a dozen ranging in age from teen to older adult with our ministers out in front. It was a beautiful picture to me to see the two of them together, white and black, side by side leading us on. As we walked down the road, I began to pray silently, not knowing exactly what to say, but I knew God would hear and answer according to His will.

We came to a woman standing, talking to someone in a car. We asked if she had anything she would like us to pray for. She said that she would like prayer for health and strength, and both ministers put their hands on her shoulders and prayed.

She thanked us and then pointed out the home of the mother of the young man who took lives on Friday. She told us that this woman really needed our help and our prayers, so we walked over to the house, most of us waiting on the sidewalk while the ministers went to the door. The mother was not at home, but they were able to talk to someone there and offer to be of service and to pray.

We continued our walk around the block stopping at a grassy area to gather round and pray together for comfort, strength, wisdom, and for God to bring about healing and grace for the neighborhood and for us as we minister there.

It made a profound impression on me to take part in this prayer walk.

Walking through the very neighborhood where the tragedy happened is more real than just seeing it on the news. These are real people who live in real houses in a real neighborhood. They have feelings and they are grieving. 

It could have been any neighborhood. These things are unpredictable and happen so fast. It has given me more to think about and a determination to continue praying and to look for ways to continue to show love and make an effort to build bridges.

*I struggled with how to write this post and asked a few friends to read it first. I want to especially thank Cara Meredith for her insights. If you read this article she wrote, you will know why I valued her thoughts. *

Special thanks also to Cameron Robinson, who has also given his insights.

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