Photo Set: Church plants crosses to memorialize record number of city homicide victims

Dec 7, 2020 at 2:24 pm
A volunteer placed a cross for Breonna Taylor, who was killed by Louisville police in her apartment on March 13, leading to months of protests.
A volunteer placed a cross for Breonna Taylor, who was killed by Louisville police in her apartment on March 13, leading to months of protests.

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.

A Black Lives Matter sign in front of Highland Baptist Church. - KATHRYN HARRINGTON
KATHRYN HARRINGTON
A Black Lives Matter sign in front of Highland Baptist Church.
Volunteers held the orange hammers they used to place the crosses in the ground in front of Highland Baptist Church. - KATHRYN HARRINGTON
KATHRYN HARRINGTON
Volunteers held the orange hammers they used to place the crosses in the ground in front of Highland Baptist Church.
Jonathan Shippey played the violin throughout the event. - KATHRYN HARRINGTON
KATHRYN HARRINGTON
Jonathan Shippey played the violin throughout the event.
Retired pastor of Highland Baptist Church Rev. Joe Phelps and Terri Phelps watched as the crosses were hammered into the ground. - KATHRYN HARRINGTON
KATHRYN HARRINGTON
Retired pastor of Highland Baptist Church Rev. Joe Phelps and Terri Phelps watched as the crosses were hammered into the ground.
Members of the church read aloud the names of those killed this year as crosses with their names on them were hammered into the ground. - KATHRYN HARRINGTON
KATHRYN HARRINGTON
Members of the church read aloud the names of those killed this year as crosses with their names on them were hammered into the ground.
Church leaders prayed in front of Highland Baptist Church while over 140 crosses were placed in the lawn to represent those who have been murdered in Louisville throughout 2020. - KATHRYN HARRINGTON
KATHRYN HARRINGTON
Church leaders prayed in front of Highland Baptist Church while over 140 crosses were placed in the lawn to represent those who have been murdered in Louisville throughout 2020.
Over 140 crosses were placed in the lawn in front of Highland Baptist Church, creating a memorial for homicide victims of 2020. - KATHRYN HARRINGTON
KATHRYN HARRINGTON
Over 140 crosses were placed in the lawn in front of Highland Baptist Church, creating a memorial for homicide victims of 2020.
The church had to make more crosses to accomdate the over 140 homicide victims of 2020. - KATHRYN HARRINGTON
KATHRYN HARRINGTON
The church had to make more crosses to accomdate the over 140 homicide victims of 2020.
Volunteers hammered crosses into the ground as members of the church read aloud the names of the over 140 homicide victims of 2020. - KATHRYN HARRINGTON
KATHRYN HARRINGTON
Volunteers hammered crosses into the ground as members of the church read aloud the names of the over 140 homicide victims of 2020.
Lauren Jones Mayfield, associate pastor to young adults and missions, and Pastor Mary Alice Birdwhistell read the Benediction at the end of the service. - KATHRYN HARRINGTON
KATHRYN HARRINGTON
Lauren Jones Mayfield, associate pastor to young adults and missions, and Pastor Mary Alice Birdwhistell read the Benediction at the end of the service.
Over 140 crosses were placed in the lawn in front of Highland Baptist Church, creating a memorial for homicide victims of 2020. - KATHRYN HARRINGTON
KATHRYN HARRINGTON
Over 140 crosses were placed in the lawn in front of Highland Baptist Church, creating a memorial for homicide victims of 2020.
A volunteer hammered a cross into the ground for Hamza "Travis" Nagdy who was shot and killed on Nov. 23. Nagdy was a passionate leader in the protests demanding justice for Breonna Taylor. - KATHRYN HARRINGTON
KATHRYN HARRINGTON
A volunteer hammered a cross into the ground for Hamza "Travis" Nagdy who was shot and killed on Nov. 23. Nagdy was a passionate leader in the protests demanding justice for Breonna Taylor.