Concerned about the rising frequency of crime and violence in the city, an informal group of eight local pastors, rabbis and priests is calling on other members of the faith-based community to join them in a weekend of prayer asking for healing and the power to solve this growing dilemma.
In a letter mailed over the weekend, they asked churches and synagogues in Columbus to take time in their services on the weekend of Oct. 27-29 “to seek intervention in the situation in which we find ourselves” through special prayer, special music or by devoting their entire service to this movement.
“Whatever you choose to do, we ask that you emphasize with your congregation the power that we believe we as a faith community have to solve this community dilemma.”
They said they were guided by Leviticus 19:18:
“Do not seek revenge or bear a grudge against anyone among your people, but love your neighbor as yourself. I am the Lord.”
The one-page letter was signed by eight members of the local faith community:
• Rev. Robert Beckhum of St. Luke United Methodist Church
• Rev. Grace Burton-Edwards of St. Thomas Episcopal Church
• Rev. Adrian Chester of Greater Beallwood Baptist Church
• Rev. Jimmy Elder of the First Baptist Church
• Rev. Charles Hasty Jr. of Grace Presbyterian Church
• Rabbi Beth Schwartz of Temple Israel
• Rev. Don Wilhite, pastor emeritus of Calvary Baptist Church
• Rev. Reggie Williams of South Columbus United Methodist Church
Through this unofficial effort, they hope to provide an initiative that will lead to solutions of a problem spurred by 32 homicides reported already this year, including three in one night a week ago that has brought on feelings of fear, frustration and anger.
To read the entire text, click Letter from pastors
“Why are we doing this?” the letter asks. “Because our hearts are heavy and we grieve with those who are victims, and we grieve for those who may be caught up in the injury and antagonism that we are experiencing in our community. Because we know that together, we can call on our Lord and He will hear our prayer.”
The letter closed with a scripture from the Old Testament:
“He has told you, O human, what is good and what the Lord requires of you: only to do justice and to love goodness, and to walk humbly with your God” — Micah 6:8