BALTIMORE – Day after day, the news reports flow in: another shooting on a street corner, in an alley, in some kind of dispute, many of the victims young and people of color.
On Aug. 2, Presbyterians attending Big Tent – including Vilmarie Cintrón-Olivieri and Cindy Kohlmann, co-moderators of the 2018 General Assembly – joined with people of faith to stand in the streets of Baltimore, stopping periodically to pray for particular people who have lost their lives recently in gun violence in the city.
The prayer march was part of the public witness of Baltimore Ceasefire, which has held these walks quarterly for the past two years. There is a hope that a movement of nonviolence and of honoring the sacredness of life can rise up from the people.
Wearing blue t-shirts for visibility and solidarity, Presbyterians walked and listened and prayed and lamented. J. Herbert Nelson, stated clerk of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), spoke of divisions between haves-and-have-nots, of the despair that comes when the lives of some residents don’t seem to hold value. He wants public witness and service to be part of what happens when Presbyterians gather in a city, done in partnership with local congregations and partners from the community.
So they gathered this night to walk and pray, to offer witness to individual lives lost and call for peace. They’ll be back to speak and witness and partner again when General Assembly meets in Baltimore June 20-27, 2020.