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'Do no harm': Faith leaders in DC's Ward 4 plan 72-hour prayer vigil against gun violence

WJLA – Washington D.C. 1/30/2023 Heather Graf
© Provided by WJLA – Washington D.C.

On Monday night, faith leaders in DC's Ward Four are kicking off a 72-hour prayer vigil against gun violence.

The 'Do No Harm, We Must Disarm' prayer vigil was planned in response to several recent shootings in Ward Four.

BREAKING: Man shot near Coolidge High School in DC'S Ward 4

That includes a January 11 case in which DC Police say a nine-year-old and a six-year-old were shot while getting off a Metrobus at 14th Street NW and Fort Stevens Drive in the Brightwood neighborhood.

RELATED: 6-year-old, 9-year-old shot coming home from school on Metrobus in DC: Police

And just a week before that, a quadruple shooting January 3 on Georgia Avenue Northwest. In that case, DC Police say a 33-year-old man was killed and three others injured, including an eight-year-old child.

RELATED: 'Such a reckless act': Man dead, child among wounded in quadruple shooting in NW DC

"We had two different shooting incidents that ended up injuring three different elementary-aged kids," said Rev. Scott Bostic of Simpson-Hamline United Methodist Church. "I think that was a real wake-up call for a lot of people. And so some faith leaders started talking about what we were going to do to respond to that."

That's how the idea for this week's 72-hour vigil came about. It will run from 7 p.m. Monday to 7 p.m. Thursday.

RELATED: 'We cannot give up now': Va. pastor shares message after Tyre Nichols was beaten to death 

In announcing the prayer vigil, faith leaders described it as follows:

"Come by the Churches listed, find resources, and pray. Each evening at 7 PM we will come together for prayer and conversation on how together we can stop the gun violence in our community.”

You can view the full schedule of participating places of worship and times here. 

“We know that prayer changes things, but we also know it can lay the groundwork for some action that has to take place,” said Reverend Patricia Fears of Fellowship Baptist Church. “It’s not us telling the community, but offering them space to come and share some of their potential solutions.”

It begins Monday evening at Fellowship Baptist Church, located at 5605 Colorado Ave. NW.

"It started off as an idea of 72 hours of prayer, three continuous days of prayer and different people from different congregations at different times, everyone trying to cover our ward and our city with prayer," Bostic said. 

Faith leaders are encouraging people to stop by to join the conversation in person, or you can participate virtually via Zoom.

"As members of the faith community, the idea of doing no harm holds deep resonance with a lot of people, the idea that we're here to help," Bostic said. 

Several of the churches taking part in the 72-hour vigil have already placed orange signs outside that say 'Do No Harm! We must disarm!"

 "The call to disarm is to put down our weapons, whatever they may be, especially the guns that are doing so much damage," Bostic explained.   "And to come together and engage in conversation so that we can reclaim this space as a peaceful area for people to live."

Just hours before the start of that 72-hour prayer vigil against gun violence, 7News reported on another shooting in Ward Four. This time, near Coolidge High School.

"It really is difficult to see it over and over again," Reverend Fears acknowledged.

She says that's why faith leaders who organized this vigil don't intend to stop there.

"It's important that we all get engaged in the process, so we'll know we're all it in together.  We're trying to bridge the gap and mend the divides," she said.  "So first we take this action and this notion of drawing all different types of people together, to hear what they have to say, and then we start shaping and developing a coalition."

Reverend Bostic said he believes another key step is listening to community members and understanding their needs.

"Were hoping to find out what it is that people need, whether it's a job or a safe place to go, a sense of community, or whether it's just to be reminded they are loved," he said.  "Then we can find ways to meet those needs.  There are lots of resources in the District."

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