Community gathers at Legislative Hall
As a woman sang the hymn “Every Praise,” outside Legislative Hall June 12, the words of worship rang out and more people were drawn closer into a large sunny patch on the grass to hear from and pray with pastors from the area.
The Interdenominational Ministerial Alliance of Dover and Vicinity hosted the prayer meeting around noon.
This comes as protesters in Dover and across the country have been rallying for change after the highly publicized killings of three Black people by current or former police officers: Ahmaud Arbery who was shot while jogging in Georgia, Breonna Taylor who was shot while in her Louisville, Kentucky, apartment, and George Floyd who died after a Minneapolis police officer knelt on his neck for nearly nine minutes during an arrest.
The Rev. Rita Paige, chair of the IMA social impact committee, gave opening words.
“We know that God is the answer to everything that’s been going on," Paige said. She compared the Biblical character Rizpah, a woman in the Old Testament whose sons were killed, with Black mothers today who are grieving the unjust deaths of their children.
“They stand here today to represent change,” she said. “So no other sons and daughters have to be lost to police brutality or any other unnecessary murder.”
City and state officials joined the gathering, including Mayor Robin Christiansen, Insurance Commissioner Trinidad Navarro, Lt. Gov. Bethany Hall-Long, Rep. Frank Cooke and Sen. Trey Paradee.
Several members from Central Delaware Habitat for Humanity came to show support. Executive Director Tim Bailey said the team wanted to spend a moment in prayer with their community since Habitat is a faith-based organization. “God is at the center of everything that we do, and we want to support our brothers and sisters,” he said.
Pastors gave words of inspiration, and many led prayers asking God for healing and transformation in the city.
The Rev. Regina Bell, pastor at First Pilgrim Baptist Church in Camden, gave a message of encouragement. “I want you to know that your God is still able. I want you to know that your God still answers prayer,” she said.
Quoting a passage from former president Abraham Lincoln, the Rev. Anthony Wallace of Crossroad Christian Church in Dover called for a day of “humiliation, fasting and prayer,” just as Lincoln did in his 1863 proclamation.
When the Rev. Turhan Potter of Whatcoat United Methodist Church in Dover stepped up to the mic, he prayed for change in widespread racial disparities in education, policing and more.
“And, God, we still can’t breathe,” he prayed. “You have the supernatural ability to take hearts of stone and replace them with hearts of flesh.”
“Lord, we are ready for your healing,” he prayed.