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Community prayer service set for Sunday

 

NATCHEZ — Late last year, Natchez Mayor Darryl Grennell organized a communitywide prayer service to pray for the community after 14 people had been murdered in Natchez and Adams County throughout the year.

Approximately 100 people gathered Dec. 18 at Zion AME Chapel in downtown Natchez to pray for an end to the violence plaguing the city.

“When we had the one back in December,” Grennell said, “it was so inspirational and moving that several people called me and said, ‘Darryl, we need to continue to have this prayer service for the community,’ so I decided, let’s do it quarterly.”

Sunday’s event will be at 5 p.m. at Zion Chapel AME Church, 228 N. Martin Luther King Junior St., and will be the first prayer service this year, Grennell said.

The Rev. Bill Barksdale, pastor of Jefferson Street United Methodist Church of Natchez, has been instrumental in pulling Sunday’s event together, Grennell said.

“He has worked with me in identifying the ministers to offer the various prayers,” Grennell said. “There is a minister that will offer a prayer for all leaders of the community. There is a minister that is going to offer the prayer for first responders and law enforcement. There is going to be a prayer for families who have lost loved ones due to violence and so forth. And then, of course, there is going to be a prayer, an invocation, an altar prayer.”

The meeting’s agenda also includes music led by Tony Fields, music director of Zion Chapel, Grennell said.

“It is only going to be one hour,” Grennell said. “It was just so moving, the last one we had. It was really powerful. I was really touched by it.”

Committee member Barksdale said he has worked with the Natchez Ministerial Alliance, of which he also is a member, to bring together a group of churches and ministers to plan a participate in Sunday’s event.

“We, I and the ministerial alliance, assimilated a list of churches with a Natchez address,” Barksdale said. “It turns out to be 99 churches, which ultimately is all of Adams County, and we’ve invited all of our churches to participate.”

Four pastors will participate in Sunday’s program, Barksdale said.

The Rev. Birdon Mitchell, will offer the opening prayer. The Rev. Scott Green will offer a prayer for leaders. The Rev. Doug Broome will offer a prayer for law enforcement and first responders and Ruby Mallory will offer a prayer for families affected by gun violence, Barksdale said.

“We are not waiting for something tragic to happen here,” Grennell said of the decision to hold quarterly community wide prayer meetings. “Yeah, we’ve had some tragic events occur, but we want to continue to pray to God to help our community and to help prevent senseless crimes. Pray for the health of our community in general.”

Grennell said he also invited representatives of the county and city governments to speak at Sunday’s event, including Natchez Ward 3 Alderman Sarah Carter Smith and District 5 Adams County Supervisor Calvin Butler along with Adams County Circuit Clerk Eddie Walker to speak at the event to share the needs of their respective communities.

Everyone is welcomed and encouraged to attend Sunday’s event, Grennell said.

The next quarterly community prayer service would be held on the steps of Natchez City Hall on the National Day of Prayer, which is May 2, Grennell said.

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