Local congregation prays for healing after violent weekend in Minneapolis

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Violence was at the center of prayer at New Salem Baptist Missionary Church on Sunday morning. Pastor Jerry McAfee said for his congregation the injury is believed.

“The pain that exists in our conversation is real and raw and the challenge is to get them to a place where they can discover purpose amid their own pain,” McAfee said.

He woke up on Sunday morning to a call from church member Jamica Timberlake saying his son had been shot overnight. McAfee said Carltrell “CJ” Holden was shot in the neck during a concert last night. The pastor rushed to the hospital on Sunday to pray for Holden ahead of the morning church service.

“I shot down there to pray for Jamica and the family and then I came to church,” he said. “Her life is often put on hold because we don’t know how CJ is going to be. Blessing.”

It was not the only violence that affected the congregation. McAfee said the family of LaDavionne Garrett Jr. – the 10-year-old who was shot in late April – also attends the New Salem Baptist Missionary Church.

“There’s so much going on right now with all the gun violence, with all the opioid-related deaths that we have,” Chasma Dixon said. She has attended church for 20 years and says the death and violence are overwhelming.

“We have a lot of burials here, so not only do we have to take care of it in the community, but we also have to help bury people,” Dixon said. “It’s a season that Minneapolis has had before. It’s nothing new. It’s something that we are trying to live and improve.”

The church hopes to be a place of healing and hope for its members.

“It’s part of my job and my responsibility as a pastor is to try and show them how to deal with it,” McAfee said.

The most recent shooting comes a day after local and state leaders shared an update on the progress of the “21 Days of Peace” initiative. McAfee is one of the pastors helping lead grassroots efforts to patrol neighborhoods in hopes of reducing violence.

“To think that 21 Days of Peace is going to come and change everything in a few months is ridiculous,” he said. “It’s not a setback. I think it’s a setup for us to grow and for those who want to join us in this business, because we are convinced that we all have to cooperate to make this thing work. “


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