As the city shatters its homicide record with nearly 150 so far this year, the Highland Baptist Church continued its 23-year tradition of placing crosses on its front lawn to mark the deaths and memorialize the victims. One aspect was sadly different this year.
“Friends, the fact is that there are too many names for me to share stories about everyone today — there are too many crosses on our lawn,” Pastor Mary Alice Birdwhistell told those gathered for the the church’s “Peace” Sunday of Advent. “We actually had to make more crosses this year because after 23 years of this tradition, we still didn’t have enough, and there have been far too many lives lost to senseless violence, to police brutality and to systemic racial inequities in our system this year.”
The previous record was 117 homicides in 2016.
Birdwhistell encouraged those at the service to contribute more than prayers to decrease the violence in our city. “While I’m glad you’re here today, I hope that our prayers won’t stay here at the corner of Grinstead and Cherokee, otherwise our prayers are merely platitudes. Rather, as we say these 140 names today, my hope is that they will challenge us in 140 different ways to get up and do something, to listen, to learn, speak up, to be quiet sometimes, to write, to speak to protest, to preach, to give, to vote, to confess and to change.”
The crosses will remain in front of the sanctuary throughout the Advent season.
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