I recently received a letter inviting me to attend a community prayer vigil in my community of Cordele, Georgia. I was familiar with the name of one of the three organizers but not the other two.
It was scheduled for 3:00 pm on Sunday, January 14, 2018 at the Cordele community club house. The letter said that it was a prayer for the community and, in particular, the problem of crime in the city.
I will be transparent. I did not know what to expect and a few unfounded thoughts ran through my mind. Was this going to be another one of those “unity” gatherings with prayer tacked on to be sure that something religious was included?
I did not want to promote something just because it was framed as a time for prayer. I decided to go and see for myself. At the very least, I could bow my head and pray silently.
The unfounded thoughts that ran through my mind proved to be just that – unfounded. Not just unfounded, totally false.
The crowd was not very large but it looked to be a fairly good turnout to me. There were maybe three dozen people gathered. There were men and women, boys and girls, black and white. The racial makeup of the crowd was probably 80% black and 20% white.
The prayers were about the community of Cordele, Georgia. There was no focus on the West side or East side of town.
The prayers were that crime would be stopped; that families would be strengthened; that there would be jobs for the unemployed; that children would learn and be safe in schools; and that public servants would have wisdom and strength to serve.
What was not talked and prayed about was as significant as what was mentioned. There was no mention of political parties. There was barely a reference to race and that was only in the context of praying for everyone in the community no matter what race. There was no distinction of economic class.
In short, the prayers were about the people of our community. They were prayers that one would hear in churches anywhere in our region. They were heartfelt and humble.
When it was over and I was getting in my car, it dawned on me that something else was never mentioned in that gathering. There would have been nothing wrong had it been mentioned.
On the weekend of Martin Luther King, Jr. holiday, his name was never mentioned. It was because the focus was not on Dr. King, but on The King of Kings. For one hour on a chilly afternoon in the small Southwest Georgia town of Cordele, three dozen citizens of the community humbly gathered and bowed to pray.
Thank you, Joyce Williams Mitchell, Shannon Penny Nipper, Lavater Hall Bass, and the others who responded to a leading. We need to do this again, soon.
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