With tensions high after police shootings and the shootings of officers in Dallas and Baton Rouge, the leaders of the the Cecil Murray Center for Community Engagement continue to be voices of peace.
Orange County Register Columnist David Whiting has returned to Rev. Mark Whitlock multiple times over the past week. In the immediate aftermath of Dallas, he concluded his column with a line from Whitlock’s Facebook post: “Cooler heads must prevail. Let America pray for peace.”
Whiting also reported on a “prayer thread ceremony” held at Whitlock’s Christ Our Redeemer Church in Irvine. The event gathered civic and religious leaders to show their unity. Here’s an excerpt from the column:
The string, he said, is to remind ourselves that we are connected. “Your hurt is our hurt.” Whitlock stood before the Irvine police chief, tied a piece of light brown string around the officer’s wrist and offered a blessing. [Mike] Hamel returned the gesture.
As others tied bits of string, whispers of peace filled the room. Of course, 100 pieces of string don’t mean much. But thousands do.
And tens of thousands of prayer threads can weave a new tapestry for a new peace.
The Los Angeles Sentinel also covered the “thread ceremony.”
“This thread will serve as a reminder that we are not alone and that we stand together against racism, intolerance, and division. The organizers call on all church and community leaders to stand at the initiation of this movement,” said Pastor Whitlock.
“We stand with those who stand against hate. We stand with those who demand equality. Any group that incites fear and endorses hate must be met with verbal and physical resistance from all city leadership,” he declared.
Whiting returned to COR Church on Sunday, where in the immediate aftermath of the shooting deaths of three police officers in Baton Rouge, Whitlock called for safety of all police officers:
“Today,” Whitlock says, “three families lost fathers, husbands, sons. We are here to protect (the Hamels).”
The reverend calls for the congregation to encircle the Hamels with love. Nearly 200 people – black, white, Latino, Asian – flow to the front.
“We surround Chief Mike Hamel as the peacemakers we are,” Whitlock says. “Let evil stop around his wife and daughters.”
In truth, the pastor’s call is a call for the safety of all police officers. It also is a call for an end to racism and a new nation of unity.
He calls on God: “We need your praise in our communities, in our cities. We need you like never before.”
Whitlock and Rev. Najuma Smith-Pollard also participated in a prayer vigil that brought together Black Church leaders with the Jewish community and police officers in Los Angeles. The Jewish Journal covered, billed as “a service of devotion and healing in tragic times.”