When Rae Whitely decided to host a prayer-vigil-at-city-halls against gun violence today, he thought about the shootings at El Paso and Dayton earlier this month, of course, but more importantly, he thought about the 47 deaths due to guns that occurred in Palm Beach County (PBC) this year so far, between January and the end of June.
His purpose? Essentially to re-connect church and state.
Heal Our Country—Heal our Neighborhood Prayer Vigil will be held at 4:30 p.m. today at local city halls in each of the following PBC cities: Belle Glade, Boynton Beach, Delray Beach, Lake Worth Beach, Pahokee, Riviera Beach, South Bay and West Palm Beach.
“This has got to stop,” said Mr. Whitely, a resident of Boynton Beach and founder of Black Votes Matter. “The Clergy can no longer sit on the sidelines and watch our neighborhoods deteriorate. We will respond in the spirit of Nehemiah and we will do it with the people making decisions that affect our neighborhoods: city officials.”
Mr. Whitely, you see, is also a pastor. He said he and some members of his church, Healing Hands Ministry in Boynton Beach, will be at Boynton Beach City Hall today, along with City Manager Lori LaVerriere, among others.
The Rev. Dr. J.R. Thicklin, who is president of the PBC Clergy Alliance, will lead the prayer at Riviera Beach City Hall. Interestingly, newly elected Mayor Ronnie L. Felder had hostedweekly prayers at City Hall for months last year as pastor of Transformation Church of the Palm Beaches. Mayor Felder said he’ll be there today.
“I do think there’s a need sometimes to combine the spiritual with public service, to ensure we have the strength we need to make change,” said Mayor Felder, who is also CEO of JAY Outreach Ministries, a spiritually based recovery program for men located in the city. “The question is how do you do that? A good start to me has always been prayer at city hall.”
Come back here for an update on today’s countywide event.