It can be hard to know how to respond to the continual news of violence in our community. It seems like every time I watch our local Indianapolis news I hear of another shooting. Since I have been pastor of Castleton, I have held three prayer vigils in our community as a response to gun violence. These three acts of violence were just in our part of the city. There have been dozens throughout the city.
How does our faith call us to respond to these acts of violence? It can be difficult to know how to respond. Yet, we know the first and most important response is to be praying for peace. That’s why we gather in parking lots and on street corners to pray. We are witnesses to our faith and for peace as we prayerfully stand in those places where violence has occurred. We also cover that place in prayer. We ask for God’s presence to come and to turn all hearts to peace and nonviolence.
The Scripture from the prophet Jeremiah comes to mind. “Seek the peace and prosperity of the city” (Jer 29:7). We seek peace through our prayerful presence in the community. That’s why I have committed to always respond through organizing prayer vigils every time there is an act of violence in our part of the city. It makes a difference. Let’s keep showing up.
Another way to respond to this violence is by moving our prayer into presence. We do that as we show up in those places where violence has occurred, but we can also be regularly present in the community. Rev. Charles Harrison and the Ten Point Coalition have been taking safety walks through the city for many years. After several acts of violence at Lake Castleton Apartments, Rev. Harrison and others from Ten Point and the North Shadeland Alliance, including our own Joe Garrison, have been active at Lake Castleton for over a year now by being a presence in that community.
You can too! Anyone is welcome to participate in these safety walks on Tuesdays at 5:30pm, starting in front of the leasing office. You simply walk the community. You’re present. I would add you’re prayerfully and spiritually present. There’s a power in simply walking and being present to residents and neighbors showing that you care and that your desire is for peace.
How can we respond to the violence that is happening across our city? We begin with prayer at home, at church, and wherever we are. We pray in those places where violence has occurred, and we show up, are present, and are witnesses for peace.