Prayer event calls for support to help combat rise in local violent crime

Bishop Barry Washington and Pastor Camilla Washington of Whole Man Ministries

Prayer event calls for support to help  combat rise in local violent crime
March 02
11:00 2023

We are only in February; however, it seems there has been an uptick in violent crime as compared to last year. Noticing this alarming trend, Bishop Barry Washington and his wife Camilla Washington of Whole Man Ministries have coordinated a Warfare Prayer event on March 4 to bring attention to the violence.

The event will be held at The Enterprise Center, 1922 S. Martin Luther King Jr. Dr., and will run from 11:15 a.m. until 1 p.m. The Washingtons put out a call to 50 members of the religious community to join them in prayer. Even though the space only fits 50, they are asking for any and everyone to come to The Enterprise Center and be around the building to pray as well.

According to Bishop Washington, the idea for the event came from his wife, Pastor Camilla Washington, after she mentioned having a warfare prayer event years earlier for a previous shooting death in the city. Washington says that was the mustard seed that got the ball rolling for this event.

“I thought about it from a different perspective, so I took what she said and I thought to just invite pastors, everyday people and evangelists,” said Bishop Washington. “I said, let’s just invite 50 of them and we come together and pray. One of the main reasons why I wanted to do this is because when you turn your television on and you hear on the news every day a shooting, you start to lose hope, not us, but the community is starting to get weary of the shootings.

 “We know that the church is not silent. The church is vibrant and strong because it appears to be silent because no one hears from us or sees us. I think we have to be visible for one and the body of Christ has to be visible. We have to speak a little bit louder and start to pray and make a difference in that vein.”

Pastor Washington says it sickens her that these shootings have become the norm when it should be the other way around.

“Something that is abnormal has become normal and that’s the shootings every day,” said Pastor Washington. “We turn on the news and it’s up to a point now where I can’t watch it anymore. What happens is after a period of time, it becomes the norm and people don’t feel the same way about it.

“I am a firm believer that the church needs to be visible. We can’t wait on the police department, the sheriff’s department or the government to take care of things I feel like we should be responsible for. We have to be visible. There is no respect for the law or respect for anyone’s life, so I just feel like we tried everything else, let’s try prayer.”

Pastor Washington stated it was intentional that they did not hold this event at their church as they did not want this to be about the church, but instead about coming together for “doing the work of the Lord.”

“There is a real enemy out there and it’s coming to take the city of Winston-Salem,” she continued. “We must do something and my husband and myself can’t continue to appear to sit on the sidelines. It’s time to do something about it and this is something we can do.”

When the Washingtons put out this call to prayer to other faith leaders around the city, it was well received, said Bishop Washington. He has also received commitments from Mayor Allen Joines, newly appointed City of Winston-Salem Police Chief William Penn Jr., and has reached out to Sheriff Bobby Kimbrough as well.

“It has been a very positive response,” said Bishop Washington. “We have had an overall great response from the community. The pastors are coming, Black, white, and from various denominations. We are excited about it because so many people are wondering, ‘What can we do?’ and with anything, it starts with prayer.”

Even though there is only room for 50 at the prayer event, Bishop Washington is calling for all people to stop what they are doing on March 4 and join them in prayer starting at noon and finishing up around 1 p.m.

“We would ask that everybody do that, and we ask that other churches and ministers do the same so people can get a little hope,” Bishop Washington continued. “When they see people are praying, it brings people a little hope. When you’re only hearing about shootings, you can find that a little detrimental and feel depressed about it.”

Seeing the rise in violent crime is alarming for Bishop Washington. Having been a respected faith leader in the city for some time, it does not sit well with him that violent crime is increasing instead of decreasing.

“It’s sad and it’s really heartfelt when you see this going on,” he said. “It’s so troubling because you realize that the person that has pulled the trigger doesn’t know any better and it’s just a moment of passion that is going to affect the rest of their life.

“You’re sad because they’re going to prison too young and staying too long. Then you have the victim that had nothing to do with it in most cases, and the effects that it has on the mother, the father and all that are associated with that victim. It really melts your heart and I am praying that somehow, some way, we can start a little change here.”

The Washingtons feel it is important that people all around the city become invested in this problem. Just because it’s not impacting your area of the city now, doesn’t mean it won’t in the future. Bishop Washington says he knows that there is more work needed beyond prayer, but this is just the start.

For Washington, he says it’s not about just praying for the victims and their families. He says when there is a violent crime, everyone is affected by it, including the perpetrator, as well as his family.  

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Timothy Ramsey

Timothy Ramsey

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