Hundreds Gather to Pray in Kenosha, WI, amid Citywide Unrest

‘The authority of the Church to be a healing agent in the culture has to do with our willingness to so love that we enter into the sorrow.” -Eirik Olsen, Priest at Light of Christ Anglican Church

Josh Shepherd : Sep 1, 2020  The Roys Report

(Kenosha, WI) — [The Roys Report] [Last] week, as the city of Kenosha, Wisconsin, became a national epicenter of grief and protest, churches united to respond. Christian clergy of diverse ethnicities and denominations joined together for public prayer gatherings that have swelled from dozens to hundreds of Believers. (Image: Courtesy of Gary Schneeberger /via The Roys Report)

“Prayer fuels movements,” Lawrence Kirby, lead pastor of Acts Church Kenosha, told me. “I’m not suggesting we only pray and that’s all. But we can’t belittle the power of reaching out to God, connecting with God, and getting strategies from God.”

On Thursday evening, a crowd of nearly 300 Christians came together at Kenosha’s iconic Harbor Park on Lake Michigan. Local worship leaders led songs as about ten local ministers—some with clerical collars, some wearing basketball jerseys—led inspirational, emotive prayers.

Reportedly, more than a dozen churches participated. Wisconsin’s biggest newspaper, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, streamed the event live on YouTube. Reporter Sophie Carson wrote: “Several faith leaders [stated] healing is possible through love and unity.”

Eirik Olsen, an Anglican priest who serves Light of Christ Anglican Church, led prayer alongside his friend Kirby. “Lamenting is a way of being present to the real situation,” he said in a phone interview. “Christ became flesh and dwelt among us, in order for us to know that God really is with us in our vulnerability.

“The authority of the Church to be a healing agent in the culture has to do with our willingness to so love that we enter into the sorrow,” added Olsen.

Protests in Kenosha Make National News

This public witness of unity followed the shooting of Jacob Blake III, a 29-year-old black man and father of six children who is hospitalized and reportedly paralyzed following a policing incident currently under investigation by the Wisconsin Department of Justice.

For three nights starting Monday, hundreds gathered in downtown protests resulting in damage to local businesses and other fallout. But Kirby, who lives downtown, says many of the protestors were not from Kenosha.

“Our entire city is about 100,000 people,” said Kirby. “I know the people who are part of justice movements. And I’m telling you, walking downtown early this week, I’ve seen loads of people that I don’t recognize and aren’t from Kenosha.”

By Thursday, unrest in Kenosha had subdued to a smaller, peaceful contingent—in no small part because of how Blake’s family has responded, according to clergy.

“I’ve been blown away by the grace that his family is manifesting,” said Olsen. “Clearly his mother wants justice for her son. But to those who went to extremes, she has spoken about the value of preserving our city’s family businesses and how to respond rightly”…

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