It was standing room only at a community prayer service on Monday July 11th, at Greater Friendship Missionary Baptist Church in Minneapolis, in response to a week of deadly violence in our community and nation. More than 500 people came before God as a unified Body of Christ to lament, pray for peace, and to seek hope through the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
Rev. Billy Russell of Greater Friendship and Rev. Jason Meyer of Bethlehem Baptist Church called for a night of prayer and unity that resonated with many in our Christian community which can so often feel divided based on denomination, race, creed, age, gender or neighborhood affiliation.
What a joy to hear stirring exhortations from African American pastoral leaders…“It was an encouragement to see the people of God come together and unite for a common purpose and have a common heart,” said Pastor Andy Gray of the Urban Refuge Church.
“Community is what we needed. What a joy to be with fellow believers who unashamedly declared their faith in Jesus Christ. What a joy to sing robust songs of praise and hope in the midst of deep hurt. What a joy to hear stirring exhortations from African American pastoral leaders. What a joy to pray in small clusters with those sitting near me in the church pews,” said Pastor David Lenz, Lead Pastor of Hope Presbyterian Church in Richfield.
Prayers of lament, peace, and hope in the Gospel of Jesus were led by Bishop Richard Howell of Shiloh Temple International Ministries, Pastor Laurel Bunker, Dean of Campus Ministries at Bethel University, and Rev. Richard Coleman of St. Mark AME Church and Executive Director of Hope United CDC.
When one hurts, we all hurt, we shed the same tears…
“It’s been a tragic time for all of us. When one hurts, we all hurt, we shed the same tears out of empathy. Those tears are transformative. To see pastors come, and feel their support, and to witness the flood of people come in (to the prayer service), it was just joyous. At a time like this we can’t deal in this world alone, we need each other to survive,” said Theresa Russell, First Lady of Greater Friendship.
Believers gathered in small groups, and prayed wholeheartedly for peace in our world, for the Kingdom of God to come, and for the family members of each of the recent victims of violence by name (their names are listed below).
…unite for a common purpose and have a common heart.Pastor Lenz wonderfully articulated the hope that many believers found gathered together in prayer, reflected in his blog entry, “The speakers reminded us that the church has the uniquely compelling message of love, forgiveness, and unity in Jesus Christ. Yes, we are different in significant and delightful ways. Yes, we see the beautiful colors with which God has adorned humanity. But we see as well the image of God in every human being.”
“As people are gathering at the Governor’s mansion, hoping for change, it was good to be reminded that we get to come to the throne of the Lord of the whole world and universe for all time, and are we there pleading for God to change us and change this world?” said Pastor Andy Gray.
pleading for God to change us and change this world…Rev. Terrance Rollerson of the Urban Refuge Church and Rev. Alfred Babington-Johnson of Stairstep Foundation closed out the night with a moving benediction and call to action. And further action is already taking place; Transform Minnesota organized an African American Pastors Coalition partnership interest meeting three days after the community prayer service. At this planning meeting dozens of evangelical pastors committed to support the newly established African American Pastors Coalition’s initiative seeking to end gang violence (read more here).
We are grateful for the hundreds of people who attended this community prayer service and helped spread the word. Transform Minnesota believes together we can advance the Kingdom of God better than we can apart.
In this time of pain, despair, violence and injustice, we believe loving and grieving for all of our brothers and sisters, and unity in the Church will lift our spirits as we lift our hearts, minds and cares up in prayer. And we will continue working to connect and equip the Church in matters of peace, racial reconciliation and justice through our Coming Together initiative.
Specific ways to Pray:
Prayers of Lament
- Pray for the families of those killed: Philando Castile, Alton Sterling, Officer Lorne Ahrens, Officer Michael Krol, Officer Michael J. Smith, Officer Brent Thompson, Officer Patrick Zamarripa, and 2-year-old Le’Vonte Jones.
- Grieve with those who grieve. Stand in solidarity with those who are suffering
- Repentance and recognition of racism – both individual and systemic
Prayers for Peace
- Justice to prevail, stand with those who are oppressed
- Peaceful demonstrations and protests
- Pray for oppressors – and those who may be unaware of the ways they are oppressing others
- Safety and discernment of law enforcement
- Wisdom of elected officials and community leaders
- An end to gang violence in Minneapolis and St. Paul
- Pray for an increase in genuine friendships that cross cultural barriers
Prayers for Hope through the Gospel of Jesus
- Pray for more people to experience the love and salvation of Christ
- For people to have a renewed sense of hope for life and their children’s future
- For the Church to advocate for the powerless and oppressed
- Pray for the fruits of the Holy Spirit to be evident in our actions
- A vision of restoration and racial harmony