UCC and Disciples leaders to join in prayer vigil and march for Trayvon Martin

UCC and Disciples leaders to join in prayer vigil and march for Trayvon Martin

March 25, 2012
Written by Daniel Hazard

As concern increases over the killing of Trayvon Martin, an African-American teen shot and killed by a neighborhood watch captain in Florida, leaders of the United Church of Christ and the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) will hold a prayer vigil Wednesday, March 28, 2012, during a noon worship service at the UCC's Amistad Chapel (in the UCC's Church House at 700 Prospect in downtown Cleveland), followed by a brief silent march in protest to call for justice.

The worship service, prayer vigil and march will be led by the Rev. Geoffrey A. Black, the UCC's general minister and president, and the Rev. Sharon E. Watkins, the Disciples' general minister and president. Joining them will be members of the UCC/Disciples Ecumenical Partnership Meeting, being held in Cleveland this week, plus staff and members of both mainline Protestant denominations.

Following worship, approximately 12:30 p.m., Black and Watkins will lead the march west from the steps of the UCC Church House past Quicken Loans Arena, south on East Sixth Street, east on Huron Road, then complete the block to arrive back at the Church House.

The public is invited to the worship service, vigil and march.

On Feb. 26, 17-year-old Martin was walking to his father's girlfriend's house outside a gated community from a convenience store. George Zimmerman, a white Hispanic, called police to report a "suspicious guy" and then followed Martin against the advice of the dispatcher. Neighbors said they heard a scuffle, cries for help and then a gunshot.

On Thursday, March 22, 2012, The UCC's Collegium of Officers released a statement calling for a "swift and just processing of this case in the court of law, rather than in the media or on the streets of our nation."

"We have a responsibility to model the way of justice and peace for our children and cannot wait for another tragedy like this to tear the fabric of our families and communities apart," said the Collegium in its statement. "We urge and will join with members of our congregations and communities to stop the proliferation of gun laws that allow for the destruction of their hopes and dreams."

"We cannot support or defend carrying lethal weapons in our neighborhoods and communities under any circumstances, but more particularly in the name of preserving safety and security," read the Collegium's statement. "We must interrupt the hostile and paranoid attacks on young people. We must dig deep into our hearts to better understand how racism is scarring our souls."

In her blog March 24, the Disciples' Watkins wrote, "No matter what specifically happened in the moments before an adult, primed to be suspicious, took foot and followed, then shot an unarmed teenager, something wrong happened here. This occurrence has spotlighted for us again the complicated reality of race and guns in our society."

The United Church of Christ and the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) have been in full communion partnership since 1989, recognizing each other's sacraments and ordained ministry, and committing through their partnership to seek opportunities for common ministry. The Common Global Ministries Board, formed by the UCC's Wider Church Ministries and the Disciples' Division of Overseas Ministries, unites the international mission work of the two churches.

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