South Bend church holds prayer vigil to take a stand against violence
SOUTH BEND, Ind – Community members gathered at St. Peters United Church of Christ in South Bend to take a stand against gun violence through prayer.
It was a 12-hour prayer vigil that started at 6 p.m. last night and ended this morning at 6 a.m. Organizers chose that time because it’s when most gun violence occurs.
Throughout the vigil, speakers said the names of every gun violence victim in the last two years.
22 churches from all different walks of life met at St. Peters Friday night to pray for peace and reconciliation.
“Whether you were Hispanic, African American, White, whatever, it was an affirmation and an acceptance that we stand together. And that we are in this together. And we’re committed to make a change, to make a difference,” Scott Bowie, a Pastor at St. Peters, said.
He said other pastors and community members prayed in their own ways every 30 minutes throughout the night to stand up and create a community of togetherness against gun violence.
“Our community just seems fractured, at the risk of breaking. I wanted to utilize this opportunity to bring our communities together,” Bowie said.
“If we work together in our churches, we’ll get more people working together out in our community,” Yolanda Washington, an Evangelist who organized the vigil said. “If we can all come together and love and have compassion for one another and if we can spread that across our city and across our community, I think we’ll see a decline in the violence that’s going on in our area.”
She has lived in South Bend her whole life. She tells me she’s noticed an increase in violence.
“This is the first time in my life that I’ve ever seen crime so bad,” Washington said.
That’s something that's not settling well with her.
“I’d like for it to be safe for her as well. Kids should not have to worry about going to school and worrying about if somebody’s going to start shooting in school,” she said.
But the overnight prayer vigil was not only about praying for a change in violence in South Bend but in remembrance of lives lost by violence.
“One of the ministers who was actually praying last night is a victim of gun violence himself. He had been shot twice and now he’s turned his life around,” Washington said. “He’s trying to get more young people and draw them to Christ as well.”
Washington said they hope to do another 12-hour prayer vigil in the future or something similar that will bring the community together in a positive way.