The Rev. Charlie Holt, whose church is less that two miles from the site of the shooting, gives us a behind the headlines look at how the churches in the area are coming together to build up the community in this time:
I would like to give you all a bit of an update on the Trayvon Martin situation here in the Diocese. I will not fill you in on the things that you get from the news but some of the things you may not know.
The first thing that I would say is that it is not helpful to engage in inflammatory rhetoric such as pre-judging the verdict of Mr. Zimmerman’s trial. The justice system in the US is human and imperfect. Yet it is the best the world has to offer. In this instance, it is working.
Much of the lesson of this case is about making pre-judgments before facts are known or processes have played out. As a church, we must do better than the world. Also, recognize that many of the leaders involved down here are our fellow Episcopal parishioners and mission field. They do not need the larger church making their jobs more difficult by rash statements. This is a plea for us all to speak wisely.
Fr. Rory Harris and I are the rectors of the two closest parishes and we are very much publically involved in the community especially in this issue. The first was in organizing an ecumenical Good Friday Prayer service for local ministers at Holy Cross Episcopal Sanford. Over 60 clergy from a wide variety of denominations and ethnic/race groups were represented in the leading and participation. We took the entire situation to the foot of the cross.
Three significant clergy meetings were held in our area today (4/12/12) related to the Trayvon Martin case.
The first was at noon at Allen Chapel AME, Valerie Houston, Pastor. She was one of the preachers at the Good Friday clergy prayer gathering.
Many are referring to that church as “ground zero church” because that is where the initial public outcry began.
At this meeting the state special prosecutor, Angela Corey, and the newly assigned prosecuting attorney, and the Federal Justice Department community relations person, Mr. Battles, all presented and opened up for discussion with about 30 local pastors mostly from the local black churches. Dr. Raleigh Washington, president of Promise Keepers, was also present.
Corey revealed that she is a member at St. John Episcopal Cathedral in Jacksonville. They were all very open about their faith and called on the pastors to lead in the community and become the voice of the community rather than allow unauthorized spokespersons who may not represent the community well.
They spoke about the importance of patience, their passion for the victims of crimes and the need for justice for Mr. Martin and due process for Mr. Zimmerman. They asked for our prayers for ALL involved.
Please pray for Sanford and the Lord’s leading and protection of the people of our community.
Read more of his thoughts and experiences here.