On Monday, July 11, Akron City Council held its first meeting following the fatal shooting death of 25-year-old Akron resident, Jayland Walker, by the Akron Police Department on Monday, June 27. Our Senior Minister, Rev. Nanette Pitt, was scheduled to offer the prayer to open the virtual council meeting and shared the prayer below.
The Council passed a resolution calling on all people to observe July 13, 2022 as a day of prayer and mourning. The Walker family, the community of St. Ashworth Temple, and the wider community will be attending the funeral at the Civic Theater that day. Pastor Nanette and Rev. Dr. Steven Savides will be in attendance, representing First Church.
Holy One – known by many names and beyond all names, known in many ways and beyond all knowing – we gather this evening in troubling times that should be strange, but that are all too familiar, as the horror of death sinks like a weight in our souls and as our city reels.
Shelter us, we pray, when the cold winds of indifference, suspicion, divisiveness, and narrow self-interest chill our hearts and rattle at the windows of our souls.
We lift up each Council member this evening, as well as our Mayor Dan Horrigan, Police Chief Steve Mylett, elected officials and public servants, including our policemen and women. We lift up our city’s civic and religious leaders and we lift up the members of our community. Remind us now and always that those who have the greater share of authority, have also, the greater measure of responsibility.
We lift up especially the family of Jayland Walker, and of Journei Tolbert; the family of Johnny Gaiter, and all those affected by gun violence in our city and nation.
Help us to find new hope, we ask, when hope is hard to find, when we wonder whether we’ll ever reach the promised land and when we cry out in despair and frustration – “How long? How long?” And lest we pray for peace, O God; we pray for justice, we pray for rightness, we pray for mercy.
Grant us the strength and courage to stand up and speak out against injustice; to reclaim, this day, the mantle of prophets and our ancestors who throughout the ages have led the people to justice.
Accompany us as you did the brave souls who, in the face of brutality and billy clubs, crossed bridges to demand fundamental rights. Grant us, also, wisdom and humility that we might speak our truth in love; so that we may honor, respect, and protect the least, the last, and the left out among us.
This we pray in the name of all we hold sacred, holy, right, good, and true. Amen.