There were prayers for safety on the streets of Salisbury, supplications for the end of poverty and violence and care of innocent children.
Reverent appeals mixed with music at an ecumenical service at St. Francis de Sales Catholic Church on Monday, Aug. 4, to kick off the 31st annual National Night Out and Salisbury Safe Streets Week.
“This week will show that Salisbury is the place where the peace of God is reigning,” said one of the many speakers, Elder Craig Wilson of Cathedral of Love.
The Rev. Christopher LaBarge, pastor of St. Francis, read a verse from the Biblical book of Matthew, reminding about 60 people gathered for the 6 p.m. service, “Your light must shine before others.”
He emphasized “anticipating one another” and showing hospitality.
Mayor Jim Ireton told those attending, including the police chief and several city employees and department heads, he was thinking about recent deaths in Salisbury. On his mind were residents Robert Ortiz, who died from ALS; Elizabeth Bellavance, wife of former Salisbury University President Thomas Bellavance; and well-known citizen Robert McAllister.
But, he said, his thoughts also turned to Winfield Fisher III and James Norris, both lawbreakers who died after encounters with police.
He hoped the five were together in heaven.
“Assuming heaven is an equal place … or a promised land … I hope the supreme being has brought those five people together to pray” for love and humanity on earth, he said.
“Let us envelop each other in prayer,” the mayor said.
The Rev. Greg Morris of Parkway Church of God prayed “That we might become one, that God might come to our city” and citizens will see “good things come to Salisbury.”
Elder Andrew Thompson of Remedy Church prayed for the spirit of love to increase in the city and for “love to overflow for each other.”
“Strengthen our hearts so we are holy and blameless in our city,” he said.
Pastor Gabrielle Montilues of Haitian Pentecostal Church prayed in Creole, which was then translated into English as a request to help children at risk, those who are different, the abused and those in foster care and that children be taught the way of God.
Also speaking were the Rev. Brenda Hughey Jones of First Baptish Church, the Rev. David Michaud of St. Peter’s Episcopal Church and Minister Randy Walker of Shiloh Ministries.
The prayer service ended with an outdoor reception, where the Rev. LaBarge pronounced it “a great idea.”
“It puts Safe Streets Week in context and says we have a higher power in charge,” he said.
Salisbury Safe Streets Week also featured events Tuesday and, on Wednesday, Playground Beautification Day at the Camden-Newtown Tot Lot.
Reach Susan Canfora at email@example.com.