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11 Feb 2022

A prayer for the city

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February 11, 2022 Category: Local Posted by:

The Philadelphia NAACP’s Interfaith Prayer Breakfast gave believers of all faiths a chance to lift their voices to the heavens for a city in need of it.

By Denise Clay-Murray

Photos by Leona Dixon

The myriad of issues that Philadelphia is dealing with — issues that include gun violence, poverty, and crime — are on the front pages of the city’s newspapers and leading the nightly news on a daily basis.

Last Friday, about 150 people joined leaders of all faiths at the Sam Staten Jr. Laborers Training Center on North Broad Street for an Interfaith Prayer Breakfast designed to bring the issues of the city to a Higher Power in the hope of getting them resolved.

Hosted by the Philadelphia NAACP, the prayer breakfast was a chance for the faith-based community, community groups, the city’s leaders, and law enforcement to present a united front against the city’s challenges.

Philadelphia needs a lot of help. The rate of gun violence continues to climb. Schools are no longer safe havens. Communities are under siege.

And, in the Black community —the place where plans to provide that help has traditionally been the church — t’s time for the church to reassume that role, Catherine Hicks, Philadelphia NAACP president and publisher of the SUN, said. 

“We are in a state of emergency,” she said. “And as we look for ways to combat the social, economic, and cultural ills that have plagued our communities, prayer must be at the forefront. Prayer has long been a part of the Civil Rights Movement and prayer is what brought those before us together in unity. This cannot continue — we can no longer stand idly by hoping that things will get better. If we want change, we must come together to make it happen.”

Toward that end, local gospel radio personality Dezzie presented a group of the city’s imams, rabbis, reverends and pastors to provide prayers for our national health, city leaders, mental health, drug abuse and domestic violence, the sick and shut in (the breakfast was also broadcast virtually), the city’s schools, gun violence, and finally, unity.

The virtual keynote address was given by the Reverend Dr. Alyn E. Waller of Enon Tabernacle Baptist Church. During his remarks, Waller reemphasized just how important it is for the Black community to unify.

Especially since it appears that we’re on our own.

“We can have our differences,” Waller said. “We can have our different faiths. We can have our different understandings. No one said we all have to be Democrats. No one said we can’t be Republican, and no one said we all have to be one particular religion. But if you are black in these yet to be United States, you have to be concerned about people who look like you. And that means we will have to figure out a way to walk together. Because the cavalry is not coming.”

Calls for action also came from members of the NAACP’s executive board, including a call to get more young people involved in the chapter’s ACT-SO program, which provides young people with an outlet to showcase their talents and skills to win scholarships. 

In addition to the prayers and calls for action, there were musical selections from Dezzie and praise dancing. 

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