The Commercial-News, Danville, IL

July 12, 2013

Peaceful prayer walk set to end violence

BY JENNIFER BAILEY
Commercial-News

DANVILLE — Local pastors are asking residents to participate in a Peaceful Prayer Walk to stand up against violence in the community.

The walk is to take place in neighborhoods across the city from 7 p.m. to 8 p.m. Saturday.

New Life Church of Faith Pastor Thomas Miller said residents can participate citywide in their own neighborhoods.

“I’m asking all of the community to have a prayer walk in the neighborhood that you live in,” Miller said. “We’re praying that God keeps your neighborhood safe …”

A letter was sent to local churches, city hall, the school district and Public Safety Director Larry Thomason about Saturday’s prayer walk.

Miller said they have community support for the walk.

“We’ve had support from other pastors, the city and the police department,” Miller said.

The walk is to help end violence and take the city back.

Miller recently told city council members that pastors have been talking about the multiple shootings in the community and how to stop youths from getting hurt and getting access to guns. There have been at least 17 shootings reported to police this year, with five of them resulting in fatalities.

The walk was a result of a strategy meeting among pastors and other concerned citizens last month.

Thomason has said as a result of the shootings this year in the city, a plan of action for more police on the streets was approved by Mayor Scott Eisenhauer and has been in place for more than a month.

In Miller’s letter to community members, he states, “I would like for us to have a citywide day that we would designate to take back our streets from gun violence, gang activities and illegal drug activities. With the recent murders within our community I believe that it is time to have public, peaceful demonstrations to say that we want to rid our community of any and all of these types of occurrences.

“As a minister of the gospel, I am fully persuaded that the foundation of the church is that we have been called to prayer. My recommendation would be that we would plan a peaceful prayer walk for our entire community,” he said.

Miller says with everyone’s busy schedules, a perfect day and time can be difficult to find. By having a walk at night, participation could be greatest, he said.

Miller advises participants to pray and walk individually or with neighbors in their own neighborhoods. Participants should not go up to any house, use bull horns or solicit neighbors, he also advises.

“Our purpose is to pray over our neighborhoods,” he said.

The group also asks participants to wear white T-shirts to demonstrate unity.

“I believe everyone should not only be concerned with the safety of your neighborhood but also the safety of our community,” Miller said in the letter.

Miller said the walk is one of the efforts local pastors talked about having. More events are still in the planning stage.