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Interfaith Prayer Service Calls For Justice, Vigilance Against Racism

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Zach Bernard/WBOI News
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Hundreds gathered for an interfaith prayer and peace vigil at Lutheran Park in Fort Wayne Sunday night, following violent clashes between protesters and police downtown throughout the weekend.

The event -- hosted by First Presbyterian Church of Fort Wayne -- was put together in less than 24 hours following Saturday’s demonstrations and spread largely through Facebook. The purpose was to honor and pray for the black lives lost to killings by police across the country, while calling for systemic change.

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Credit Shared by Trinity Episcopal Church on Facebook
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A wide look at the socially-distanced vigil at Lutheran Park.

The hour-long service began with a walk from Imani Baptist Temple to Lutheran Park; most who gathered wore masks to reduce the spread of the COVID-19 coronavirus. Those practices carried into the vigil itself, where attendees socially distanced on the Lutheran Park lawn.

First Presbyterian Reverend Dr. Ann Epling says residents should be focused not just on fighting the “deadly disease” of COVID-19, but also systemic racism. She cited the Christian holiday Pentecost -- when Jesus Christ commanded the Holy Spirit onto his disciples in the Bible, and celebrated Sunday -- as a poignant lesson for today.

“In other words he said, ‘You have no choice; you have to address sinful actions. You have to address moral injustices, and you have to do something about it.’”

Reverend Tim Lake is with Union Baptist Church in Fort Wayne. He wants to know if, in this moment, the community is ready to answer the call.

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“Should we stand here with tokens of gratitude? Should we offer platitudes and prayer? Or should we work towards justice? And should we love mercy so much that we commit our whole lives to it? And should we be humble enough to recognize the frailty of our own selves, even as we seek justice, so we cannot only reach out a hand of forgiveness to others but we can accept the forgiveness we need ourselves?

"And that’s the challenge of this moment.”

The vigil was streamed live on Facebook, and can still be viewed on First Presbyterian’s feed.

Zach joined 89.1 WBOI as a reporter and local host for All Things Considered. He currently hosts Morning Edition.
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