Church Faithful Prayer March for Change in Boston Communities

Rev. Arthur T. Gerald of Twelfth Baptist Church
Rev. Arthur T. Gerald of Twelfth Baptist Church

Ministers and parishioners from Roxbury and Dorchester marched through shimmering heat on Blue Hill Avenue and Warren Street on Saturday to draw attention to problems affecting their communities.

The prayer march — organized by Churches United for a City-Wide Revival, a consortium of nearly 30 Boston churches — was scheduled to fall between the start of public schools on Thursday and the primary elections on Tuesday.

“We want to elevate the fact that prayer changes things,” the Rev. Arthur T. Gerald of Twelfth Baptist Church said before the march. “There’s just so much deprivation that somebody has to do something.”

Nearly 100 congregants from Twelfth Baptist Church, Bethel Baptist Church, and Metropolitan Baptist Church mingled in the shade near their starting point at Franklin Park Zoo before they set off at noon.

The march, which was supposed to start at 11 a.m., was delayed due to a miscommunication with the police detail. The parishioners passed the time by jokingly heckling their pastors to sing, until the Rev. Jeffrey Brown of Twelfth Baptist eventually succumbed and led the group in choruses of “Somebody Prayed for Me” and “This Little Light of Mine.”

As the procession made its way to Twelfth Baptist in Roxbury, it slowed much of the northbound traffic on Blue Hill Avenue and Warren Street.

A group of nearly a dozen ministers, dressed in heavy black robes despite the heat, led the procession, waving at drivers who honked in support and shaking hands with acquaintances who ran into the street to greet them.

The mood was upbeat, but many of the marchers broke from singing to speaking passionately about the problems that drove them into the streets Saturday: poor schools, violence, and unequal economic opportunities.

Rita Lungelow, 60, a member of Metropolitan Baptist Church in Dorchester, said she was particularly concerned about the resources available to the schools that children in her neighborhood attended, compared with schools in more affluent communities.

“They don’t treat our kids the same as others,” she said.

Two of her grandchildren require special attention at school, Lungelow said, and she is concerned that the quality of their education may not be any better than when she was in school.

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SOURCE: Boston Globe – Todd Feathers

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