Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Clergy Call for Citywide Prayer to End Violence

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Clergy Call for Citywide Prayer to End Violence

Article excerpt

ST. LOUIS * With each name, he picked up a candle and blew out the flame.

The Rev. Rodrick Burton moved along the front of the sanctuary of New Northside Church on Monday, snuffing out the candles as his wife, Carlotta Cheers-Burton, spoke the names into the microphone.

Alando Scott. Michael Hennings. Michail Gridiron. Noah Barnes.

"Those lives are gone," Burton said.

They were 52 candles in all each with the name of a person who had died from violence in St. Louis this year. Heads in the sanctuary shook as the list was read. Some hands raised in prayer.

More than 75 people filled the wooden pews for a Memorial Day service of a different kind. The St. Louis Metropolitan Clergy Coalition was calling for prayer to end violence in the city. There were wives, such as Lisa Jackson, who'd lost husbands. And there were mothers, such as Carla Austin, who had come very close. Her son was shot 18 times, she said, but he survived. Now he's trying to learn to speak and walk again.

"When your child is laying there, you want someone to speak up," Austin said, gripping the lectern. "It was so easy for me to be quiet when it hadn't happened to me."

The call to end the violence united many, including people from beyond St. Louis, who filled the pews at New Northside. A Catholic friar from Imperial sat in the front row and led them in prayer. So did a minister from Cape Girardeau, as well as pastors of more than a half-dozen area churches.

"Every year in the summer months in St. Louis, we see a horrible trend," Burton said. "That trend is violence. Starting right now, we're asking the city to be united in prayer. Pray that we have peace."

Behind him was the row of candles.

Elijah Robinson. Ashley Townsend. Clem Russell. Darell Claiborne.

Sharif Allen, 21, walked to the front of the sanctuary. The last two names were those of cousins of his two of the most recent loved ones he's lost to violence in St. …

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