Prayer and Peace Walk in Downtown Birmingham

Last night dozens of Birmingham residents, including me, participated in a Prayer and Peace Walk in Downtown Birmingham from First Presbyterian Church to Marconi Park. The walk was in response to a tragic incidence of gun violence that occurred exactly one week earlier.

At 6:30 on July 17, police responded to a robbery at the Family Supermarket on 25th Street North. The suspect fired on police and many shots were exchanged. Two officers were injured. Officer Cullen Stafford was shot many times and is still hospitalized. The suspect, Roderick Wilson died. The Birmingham News reported the details of the crime here.

At the prayer walk, the Rev. Cat Goodrich of First Presbyterian presided, and many local clergy and other leaders offered prayer. They included my former student at Samford, the Rev. R.G. Wilson-Lyons of First United Methodist Church. He offered a prayer remembering the gunman who died, Roderick Wilson at the site on 22nd Street where he died.

Other groups participating in the walk included Birmingham Peacemakers, Faith in Action Alabama, the Roman Catholic Cathedral of St. Paul, and Rising Star A.M.E. Zion Church, New Hope Baptist Church, Zion Spring Baptist Church, the Church without Walls, Baptist Church of the Covenant, among others.

The walk concluded on the east side of Marconi’ Park where many people were enjoying the evening’s cool breezes and playing basketball.

In a couple posts earlier this year, I have commented on the importance of outdoor processions as a form of Christian worship and witness. Unfortunately this walk did not mark as festive an occasion as last month’s Eucharistic Procession. But it served some of the same purposes, inscribing the streets with religious meaning, seeking God’s blessing on the city, and urging people to action to help advance God’s reign of peace on earth.

The walk was covered by several local media outlets including The Park is now with a charge to engage in politics as well as prayer to solve the city’s gun problem. The walk was covered by local media. including WVTM (NBC), CBS42, WBRC6 (Fox), and the Birmingham News.

[updated July 27]

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