Local church holds vigil to bring awareness to gun violence

The prayer vigil called for an end to the gun violence that has hit the city of Winston-Salem in recent years.

Local church holds vigil to bring awareness to gun violence
November 14
07:10 2019

Gun violence seems to be on the rise in Forsyth County over the past few years. For the calendar year of 2019, 24 people have lost their lives to gun violence and there are still a few weeks left until we get to 2020.

Noticing there was a need to address the situation at hand, Tembila Covington, president of the Ministers’ Conference of Winston-Salem and Vicinity (MCWSV) called community leaders, clergy and law enforcement together for the vigil. Her concern was heightened due to the large number of incidents involving juveniles.

The MCWSV’s social justice committee coordinated the prayer vigil, collaborating with Bishop Sir Walter Mack Jr., senior pastor of Union Baptist Church, and the Corner to Corner and Street Life Conference.  

The prayer vigil was held on Friday, Nov. 8, at Union Baptist. Many individuals from the community, pastors and city officials came out to express their concern with the increase in violence.

“There is healing taking place with leadership in Winston-Salem right now, so I give honor to God for hearing our prayers and he is in the process of forgiving our shortcomings right now and the land of Winston-Salem is being healed,” said Covington.  

Many of Winston-Salem’s who’s who were in attendance for the event. The night was kicked off by Dr. Keith Vereen, presider for the evening, who read off the names of the 24 individuals who have lost their lives to gun violence this year which included: Thomas James Brown, Cequan Lenard Scales, Jerry Shiffon Watkins Jr., Fernando Soto, Ollie Deneen Richardson, Jalen Chavon Cockerham, Fred Douglas Hawkins III, Quenterio Threats, David Perez Pineda, Tevin Lamar Bonner, Michael Miles Zamora, Christian Vaughn Jones Jr, Alberto Rios Navarrette, Eneas Fladimir Bustos-Rojas, Julius Randolph Sampson Jr., Ernest Rennard Cameron, Dorrell Queshane Brayboy, Luis Ceferino Torres, Miguel Angel Lazaro-Padilla, Jumil Dewann Robertson, Marcus Warren Smith, Eric Scott Coble, Jayden Maurice Jamison and Jonas Gonzalez Sandaval.

The words given by Forsyth County Sherriff Bobby Kimbrough were some of the most memorable of the night. His call was for the community to partner together with law enforcement to combat this rise in unnecessary violence plaguing our communities.

“My challenge to you, for you, is simple: the hope you are looking for, the change you are looking for, is in you,” Kimbrough directed toward the crowd. “I encourage you to do something when you go home tonight and it can’t be a once-a-year thing, or we just do it on Sundays, because we have seen too many people dying.”

Kimbrough stated he will do his part “even if it kills him,” because he had to watch what he said for so many years, due to the position he held, but now he says he “answers to the people every four years and answers to God every day.” He aims to give transparency to the people of Forsyth County, but feels it takes action to back up the words.

There were similar sentiments given by all who spoke Friday evening. Everyone spoke about more involvement needed from the community, to get involved with the schools to address the needs with area youth.  

Mack summed up the evening by saying, “We do have work to do, but prayer opens us up for reconciliation, transparency and truth.”

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Timothy Ramsey

Timothy Ramsey

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