Cover photo by Heather Wimmer
Churches participate in Pray on Troost on Juneteenth
By Heather Wimmer
It has been said that nowhere is America more racially segregated than in church on Sunday morning.
Kansas City itself has a stark racial divide that its residents live with every day though. It is a 10-mile street called Troost Avenue, sometimes studied and known as the Troost Wall.
Data from the 2010 census show that the vast majority of black people in Kansas City live east of Troost. The vast majority of white people live west of Troost. Our area has an unfortunate history of racially restrictive housing covenants that perpetuated this arrangement. Area churches looking to do something to change and heal the racial divide in Kansas City encouraged members across the metro area to stand on the east side of Troost and pray for an hour on the evening of Juneteenth. The event was called Pray on Troost.
As the sun was sinking in a cloudy sky, masked members of many churches stood and prayed in solidarity–a blond family driving a minivan with Kansas plates. teacher from Ruskin High School wearing a shirt emblazoned with “Black Educators Matter”, a man in a pink button down with dreadlocks, Catholic priest in robes.
Some of the people praying wrote words on their masks to show what they were praying for: unity, peace, justice, hope, Jesus saves.
Some held Black Lives Matter signs.
Organizers were careful to encourage participants to park legally on side streets and stand at least six feet apart, and mostly people did. As participants stood and prayed, exuberant cars drove by honking and waving, showing peace signs and raised fists out windows and sunroofs. Many of those cars had phones out, filming this unusual scene. Some cars blasted Michael Jackson’s “Man in the Mirror.”
There were reports of the street being packed from 48th to 63rd, and the socially distanced human chain stretched as far as the eye could see both north and south from the 85th Street bridge.
After an hour of praying, Reid Kapple, Christ Community Pastor (Olathe Campus) was hopeful. He and his 9-year-old daughter Jane didn’t want this to be a one and done event. “I hope that this isn’t just a moment,” he said. He is looking to form relationships with diverse churches and groups closer to home. He said that if people don’t seek social justice and only interact with those who look like themselves, then they “are missing something from our discipleship.”