MARSHALL — Though only four people showed up for Marshall Against Violence’s prayer vigil Wednesday, the tiny group bowed together, anyway, asking God to bring comfort and peace to those affected by recent mass shootings in the nation.
“I’m not moved by numbers,” said MAV president Demetria McFarland as she thanked the modest assembly for attending the vigil, held in the community room of Marshall Fire Department.
“You told us that where two or more are gathered, you are in the midst,” McFarland said, referring to Matthew 18:20 in her prayer.
The intimate gathering shared how heavy their hearts were as they rallied together to pray for the cities of El Paso and Dayton, Ohio, both of which experienced shootings over the weekend.
A Saturday morning shooting at a crowded El Paso Walmart left 22 people dead and dozens of others wounded. Sunday’s early morning shooting left nine people dead when a gunman opened fire in a nightclub area of Dayton, Ohio. One of the victim’s was his sister.
“I’m very upset at what happened. It seems to be repetitive,” McFarland said.
“It seems like every time we look around, we’re losing people,” she said.
Prayers also were extended Wednesday for the city of Gilroy, California, which saw the deaths of three people during a July 28 shooting at the Gilroy Garlic Festival.
Beverly Joseph said she was at the vigil because she agrees something needs to be done.
“I came because I didn’t have a choice. I didn’t have a choice, because in my lifetime — I’ve been in this world 60-plus years — I’ve experienced hatred from Day One, even before I was born, even conceived, by the way of my ancestors and my parents,” she said.
“To say I’m angry would be saying it mildly; to say I’m hurt would be saying it mildly,” Joseph said. “I empathize with the parents. Every child who has died unnecessarily by way of hatred, by way of torture, by way of abuse, I cried out as a parent.”
Maxine Golightly said she came to support MAV’s efforts, too, because such tragedies can happen anywhere.
“It can happen in Marshall,” Golightly said. “So we all should be trying to do whatever it is we can.”
Sarah Swofford said she wasn’t there to give any opinions on politics but did want to join the group in praying particularly for El Paso, which was once her home.
“I lived in El Paso for eight years. My idea is to pray for the city of El Paso and for the people and families that lost their loved ones and also our law enforcement, first responders, all those,” Swofford said, saying she still has friends there.
McFarland led the group in prayer, asking God to lift up the victims, their families and all affected by the shootings, including first responders, law enforcement and medical staff.
“We pray for those who had to witness such a senseless tragedy,” McFarland said.
She also prayed for the gunmen responsible for the shootings.
“We lift up their families, because we know that even now that they’re questioning themselves what happened and why,” she said.
She prayed against the spirit of hate, racism and other factors leading to such incidents.
“We come together in unity and love and just ask you to continue to guide and direct us how we can make a difference in this world,” McFarland said.
McFarland also prayed for the mayors of the cities, governors of the states, President Donald Trump and the men and women of Congress. She ended the prayer by asking for protection of the future generation.
“We don’t want our children and grandchildren to go through what we’re going through,” she said.
McFarland said she will send cards to the leaders of the mourning cities and letters to the president and Congress, asking for firmer regulations on gun laws to help stop the violence.