Prayer, dialog help unify community

Published 11:00 pm Thursday, July 21, 2016

“The shot heard ‘round the world was the start of the revolution.” Those are the words from the popular Schoolhouse Rock song referring to the first shot of the American revolutionary war.

The fatal shooting of Alton Sterling, a black man, by police in Baton Rouge on July 5, 2016, could be considered the shot heard ‘round the world– or at least across the country– that played a part in the fatal shooting of five police officers in Dallas on July 7 and the fatal shooting of three officers in Baton Rouge on July 17. The fatal shooting of another black man, Philando Castile in Falcon Heights, Minnesota, on July 6 also played an integral role in the creating the situation.

If you read that last paragraph and thought that the phrase “fatal shooting” is getting repetitive, it is. That’s the kind of month that it has been.

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Yet in all this chaos and division in the fallout from these tragedies, the city of Troy and Pike County have found unity – possibly more now than ever.

Law enforcement, city officials and citizens have come together to talk, pray and worship together in several ways over the past week.

It started Thursday, July 14, with a community forum hosted by Dana Wilson, founder of Humbled Hearts Inc., and Shabrell Reynolds, founder of Flowing Brook Inc. The forum saw local law enforcement officials discussing concerns of the community and teaching proper procedure to make sure that both the residents and officers can be safe. Attendees also got to share their stories and insight into dealing with law enforcement.

Then Pastor Anthony Askew of Christian Life Church organized a prayer vigil for Tuesday with pastors from across Pike and Barbour counties. At least 100 citizens, black and white, came together to pray for the community, state and nation, and to rejoice in song. Law enforcement officers were also at the vigil again to speak with the community.

Wednesday and Thursday, the Rev. Luke Lane opened the doors at First Baptist Church for people of other denominations to come in and pray, and the doors will be open again today from 7 a.m. until 5:30 p.m.

While some places in America are being torn apart by the unrest, Pike County seems to only be getting stronger.