The Morgan County NAACP held a prayer event that they hope will be the first phase of unifying the community.
The June 20 event began with NAACP Life Member and emcee Walter C. Butler III telling what was to come. The Torch Church Madison campus pastor Kevin Burroughs opened the prayer event before Union Springs Baptist Church Minister Kathy Hubbard led the crowd in a song of worship.
Morgan County NAACP President Lonnie C. Brown then welcomed everyone to the event. Brown thanked the EMS, doctors, nurses and other healthcare professionals, as well as the ministers and churches, mayors and other local politicians before saying that the young people were the true reason they were there.
“To me, you are the force behind the change,” Brown said. “This is why we need to create the level of unity that cannot be broken by hatred, looting, rioting, disrespect but with a voice that say all lives matter.”
Brown quoted Martin Luther King Jr. saying, “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. Whatever affects one directly affects all.” He said that everyone is intricately linked.
“Let me be clear, young, old, black, white, Jew, gentile, Baptist, Methodist, catholic, protestant, democratic or republican, none of us have all the right answers,” Brown said. “Don’t make no mistake, none of us have the right answers. We must proceed to dialog, to listen, to advocate, to speak up and speak out making our voices heard for the unity over divineness. Through positive action that there is nothing more vital to our democracy than not only to have the power vote but that your vote is counted, whether its one or 29, it’s important to vote. We must take part in positive peaceful solution based activity that unite and heal our community.”
Indian Creek Baptist Church Pastor Bobby Patman then led a prayer for unity. During the prayer he said, “Unity begins with love, and God is love.”
“Unite us is our own hearts, Lord,” Patman prayed. “Unite us in our home. Unite us heavenly father in our community… Let the past be the past and we’re moving forward in the name of Lord. We need you Lord. In order to be united we need you Lord because we don’t know how to be together but if we ask you in the name of Jesus you will unite us… We need to love one another… You are unity, Lord.”
Fair Fight Action Political Strategist and lobbyist Demarious Brinkley then spoke.
“Would I choose struggle or would I choose prosperity?” Brinkley said. “And before you today, my answer is I’d choose struggle. I was raised by my great grandmother on Whitehall St. and there are people who have inherited property, people have inherited trust funds but what my grandmother inherited to me was prayer, prayer and praise. Money cannot buy peace, money cannot buy being whole but prayer and praise can.”
Brinkley talked about how fitting it was that they were gathered in prayer the day after Juneteenth.
“I don’t think it’s a coincidence that we are standing here today, standing in the black prophetic tradition of prayer because there is something about faith that got my grandmother over it,” Brinkley said. “There’s something about prayer that got you over, and there is something about faith that will continue to get us over because as we memorialize black bodies due to racists ideology, I stand with all the other clergymen here today and we wait for the day that we can funeralize racism, that we can funeralize exclusion, and the day that we can memorialize poverty. We are standing in the work of Jesus when we are standing and rooted in justice. We are closer to Jesus when we are doing justice work.”
Brinkley called those gathered to action, not just prayer but doing the work needed to transform the community.
Madison Mayor Fred Perriman then spoke. Perriman said that the prayer event made him think of something, the blood of Jesus.
“When we all realize and understand that when Jesus hung on the cross of Calvary, he didn’t shed black blood, he didn’t shed white blood, he shed red blood,” Perriman said. “I just want to say one thing: it doesn’t matter how long we march, it doesn’t matter where we march and it doesn’t matter how long we talk about racism, but what does matter is when we say to ourselves I can make a difference, that difference will not come until all of us start to have a conversation with somebody that you have not had a conversation with. Peace, justice and love begins with love.”
Perriman challenged those in attendance to have lunch with someone who doesn’t look like them.
“We can sing all day to God be the glory but until we live it, or until we walk it, the difference will not be made,” Perriman said.
Madison First United Methodist Church Pastor Grady Mosley prayed a prayer of love.
“Have I told you lately that I love you? Those of you that know me know I say that regularly and that I mean it and if I don’t know you know this, I love you,” Mosley said. “I love you in the way that God wants me to love you.”
He challenged those in attendance to not only tell people around them they love them but to show it with their actions.
“We must be the change we seek,” Mosley prayed. “For our first responders in particular, and for our police, Lord I pray, as they pray, that their hearts are always pure and their calling that they have is not to be warriors, their calling is to be guardians. So I pray that you watch over them, watch over us as we encounter one another in all the duties so that the number one goal is that everyone gets to go home that night.”
Those in attendance clapped in agreement as Mosley prayed.
Morgan County NAACP member Jami Edwards then spoke.
“Faith without works is dead and we show our faith by our actions,” Edwards said. “Unity is a verb. Love is a verb. Hope is a verb. Justice and liberty for all is not a destination, it’s a daily commitment and you have to ask yourself are you ready to make that commitment? Are you willing to take action?”
Edwards challenged the attendees to expose themselves and their families to black thinkers, writers and history. She asked them to follow black social media accounts and to participate in the local chapter of the NAACP.
Bethlehem Baptist Church Pastor Aaron Carter then closed the event in a prayer for hope.
“We stand on the shoulders of our forefathers and foremothers who didn’t see what we see but they had hope and they held onto to the hope that things would get better,” Carter prayed.