A call for healing in Baltimore

Palm Sunday worshipers pray for the welfare of the city, bless elected officials

April 06, 2009|By Nick Madigan | Nick Madigan,nick.madigan@baltsun.com

Baltimore has enough of its own troubles to confront without its residents taking on other places' calamities.

As people in Binghamton, N.Y., and Pittsburgh reeled in recent days from multiple fatal shootings in their communities, a group of pastors and churchgoers assembled Sunday outside Baltimore City Hall and focused their prayers on the ills of their own town, far from healed.

"We're clearly aware of even greater problems in other areas," the Rev. Allen F. Robinson, rector of St. James' Episcopal Church, said after the Palm Sunday gathering, referring specifically to the shootings in Pennsylvania and New York, which claimed a total of 17 lives. And last month, a parolee shot and killed four police officers in Oakland, Calif.

FOR THE RECORD - A photo caption accompanying an article about Palm Sunday services in Monday's editions incorrectly identified the girl in the picture. She is Tasja Slaughter of Metropolitan United Methodist Church.

"But this city is coming together," he went on. "There is resistance to some of the crime that we've seen in the past. The average, everyday, hardworking citizen is fed up with crime, and they're willing to get together to reclaim their city, one by one."

About 50 people attended the prayer gathering - most in their Sunday best - and there was no doubting their belief in the power of the Almighty to make things right.

"During these hard times, your love, comfort and reassurance are needed more than ever," Dresden Davis, a 15-year-old congregant at St. James', said in a prayer. "In this city of Baltimore, there are hundreds of homeless men, women and children that are looking to you for warmth and hope to get back on their feet."

As world leaders try to "bring an end to poverty," she said, "it cannot be done without your help."

Tasja Slaughter, 11, who attends Metropolitan United Methodist Church, struck a similar theme, noting "those who are feeling despair and misery from the terrible impact of the economy."

As it has since it began six years ago, the Palm Sunday gathering included the blessing of a City Hall door, symbolizing the congregants' wish to protect and inspire Baltimore's elected officials and employees to do their jobs well.

"We bless those who serve the city," prayed the Rev. Jeremiah G. Williams of Metropolitan United Methodist Church. "Help them as they continue to lead, guide and help your people."

City Council President Stephanie C. Rawlings-Blake - the only member of the panel to attend - stepped up to the microphone and said, "I pray for my own strength, my own peace in a troubled world."

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