Sunday, June 28, 2014 || By Michael Romain
MAYWOOD–Mayor Edwenna Perkins, Police Chief Valdimir Talley and Fire Chief Craig Bronaugh were among about a dozen people who gathered at the First Avenue point of the Illinois Prairie Path early yesterday evening. They were here to pray.
“We want to stop the violence and killing,” said Billy Fowlkes, who created and organized the event, which he calls the Prayer on the Prairie Path & Stop the Killing and Violence Walk.
“The purpose of this was to bring unity back to our community,” he said.
Fowlkes, the founder of Stretching Hands Community Outreach Ministries of Maywood, has been convening these prayer gatherings for at least a year. In May 2013, he organized a prayer vigil at Maywood Veterans Memorial Park for the same purpose.
The group met at 1st Avenue and walked the path to 17th Avenue, where they stopped in the middle of the street and formed a circle. A Maywood police squad car and an ambulance formed impromptu barriers between the prayer circle and the flow of traffic. If there were any drivers who were impatient with the inconvenience, they didn’t display it. Several feet away from the circle, one would have heard passionate pleas for peace, jobs and community restoration–but no horns.
“You can’t pray enough,” said Liz Campbell, a member of Project HOOD (Helping Others Obtain Destiny), an anti-violence initiative based in Chicago’s Woodlawn and Englewood neighborhoods. She had stopped by to pray en route from the South Side to her home in Bolingbrook, where she sits on the local school board.
“Prayer is the greatest thing we can do. Regardless of whatever is going on–we got to pray,” she said.
When asked what precisely she prayed for, Mayor Perkins, who walked from 1st Avenue to 17th Avenue, provided a list of things.
“Prayer is the ultimate,” she said. “I prayed for prosperity; for God to put a stop to the rise in foreclosures; for properties to be reinstated; for our young people to be free from drugs and alcohol and crime; for them to be liberated.”
When they got to the end of their short cross-town sojourn, the walkers stopped to bond over watermelon, cold drinks and grilled hot dogs. They had expended enough supernatural energy for the day. It was time to rest. VFP
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