Community members gather for prayer service on bluff

Published 12:00 am Sunday, July 10, 2016

NATCHEZ — When LLJuna Weir broke into the chorus, Saturday, Natchez resident Chantel Marsaw broke into tears.

“It’s been a long time coming … But I know a change is gonna come, oh yes it will,” sang Weir, Natchez Mayor Darryl Grennell’s sister Saturday.

The Sam Cooke song, “A Change Is Gonna Come,” was a highlight of Grennell’s morning of prayer Saturday on the bluff.

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“When she sung those words, it just made me think,” Marsaw said. “We’ve been waiting on that change a long time.”

Grennell prefaced the event by saying this was not about politics. Grennell said he believed Natchez needed a morning of prayer for unity. It was particularly important, he said, following the deaths involving law enforcement in Baton Rouge and Dallas, and also the recent shooting deaths in Natchez and Adams County.

“I know prayer works,” Grennell said. “We need a prayer for unity across this country, in our homes, our schools and in government.”

The Rev. Clifton Marvel gave the opening prayer, and he even sang a couple of songs throughout the morning including “Amazing Grace.”

Marvel thanked the Lord for putting the need for this event on the mayor’s heart. Marvel thanked the crowd for coming out in the summer heat, and he lifted up a special prayer for law enforcement.

The Rev. Ruby Mallory also lifted up her voice to lead a prayer, hers for the unification of the city.

“May we be the catalyst for change so the rest of the country looks on us,” she said. “Thank you God right now that we can live in peace, that You place on our leaders hearts to come together.”

The Rev. Nance Hixon gave the closing prayer, and he too wanted to see the people — the industries, the businesses, the schools and all of Natchez — come together.

“I pray You put love in our hearts,” Hixon said. “You are a God who can cross barriers and come and tear down the diving walls.

“We place this in your great nail scarred hands. Amen.”

After the group gathered let out a resounding “Amen,” the Rev. Kevin Deason said that Natchez needs more prayer events. He said the unity he saw Saturday was awesome to behold.

“Unity is what is needed here in Natchez,” Deason said. “Being a pastor here, I understand the divisions that divide us. But I think what this does is create a common bond of people coming together, people who have never met one another, coming together to fellowship and pray.”

Getting to Saturday’s prayer event was difficult for Marsaw, she said. Marsaw works at the Travel Inn and didn’t get off work until 5 a.m., but said she was glad she participated.

“I wanted to come, to be a part of the unity here, to be a part of the prayer,” she said. “It reminds me of the saying, when two men come together praying, God will move faster. We need God in Natchez.”