By Heather Wimmer
Images courtesy of Shana Kempton
On Saturday, July 3, as many people were heading to the lake or beginning celebrations for Independence Day, over 100 people spread along ten miles of Prospect Avenue and spent an hour praying for peace.
If you drove on Prospect on Saturday evening, you would have seen small groups scattered, mostly on corners of Prospect from Lexington on the north to 81st Street on the south. They were mostly adults, with a few children; mostly black, a few white.
Some people were alone praying for healing, unity and less violence in our city. Some made signs and encouraged people in cars to pray with them.
Sharon Wallace, a member of St. James Catholic Church located in midtown also participated in last year’s Pray on Troost, where she felt, “immense unity for those who would embrace it.” Wallace says, “even though there aren’t as many (people) as there were last year on Troost, I still feel the unity. There’s a whole bunch of churches in just this group of people but it’s the same God–just a different fan club.”
Margaret Thomas, of Prairie Village, KS, said she saw a family of four seated on the ground reading aloud the names of people who had been shot and praying for the victims’ families by name as they read each one. And she was moved by seeing a black man facing the sun, standing alone, with his eyes closed and hands clasped in an attitude of prayer.
The event was the culmination of 21 Days of Peace, in which area churches and other organizations came together to pray for a calm to the violence in our city. Minister Keith Brown says “violence is wreaking havoc in our city. We are the victims of violence. Deadly violence.” Indeed, statistics bear that out. KCPD reports 75 homicides as of July 2 so far in 2021, not including officer-involved shootings. Pastor Cassandra Wainright, president of the Concerned Clergy Coalition, kept the faith even though shootings continued during the 21 Days of Peace. She spent time making arrangements for volunteers, visiting families impacted by violence and showing up at violent crime scenes in preparation for the event.
The organizing groups for this event included SCLC GKC, Heart of the Father Initiative, Healing Pathway Victim Service, Sankofa For K, Ad Hoc Against Crime, Historic St. Mark Church 24/7 Prayer Ministry, Center for Conflict Resolution, Camp Choice, Urban Council, Urban Summit, NBUF, NAACP, Urban League, Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and Concerned Clergy Coalition.