Holding signs with that message written in Spanish and English, members of two different churches expressed the need to end violent crime in the area as well as encourage people to turn their lives over to God.
The Franklin Road corridor is lined with aging apartments primarily built in the 1970s and is largely considered blighted with high crime and transiency rates.
The idea for praying on the street came after two unrelated shootings took place in the corridor within 24 hours in May. Saturday’s vigil was the second one organizers have arranged since the shootings.
“Too many churches are stuck behind our four walls,” said organizer Willie Davis, an ordained elder at Greater Community Church of God in Christ in Marietta. “If we get out and pray, God will change things.”
Faith in the power of prayer was echoed over and over by the vigil participants.
“Prayer works for everything,” said Darlene Lewis of Marietta, who attends Greater Community. “It’s the only way to get things that seem impossible accomplished.”
Carolyn Davis, of Acworth, described growing up in a poor community in Knoxville, Tenn., “where they put you in a box,” because of the neighborhood she was from. She was praying for those on Franklin Road who might feel the same way.
“I believe in the power of prayer because I was one of those people who society said ‘She won’t amount to anything,’” she said. “With Christ coming into my life, I didn’t have to accept what somebody else thought I would be,” the retired Georgia Power employee added.
Patricia Hayes, of Marietta, had tears in her eyes as she prayed on the street. The Point of Grace Church International parishioner said she was “crying for the souls lost who need the Lord.”
Another vigil organizer, Point of Grace Pastor Reginal Moss, said, “I still believe this country was birthed on the power of prayer. We need to go back to some of our roots to help us do what we’re trying to do with the law and the government assisting.”
Attendees had mixed views on the city’s efforts to improve Franklin Road, which involve purchasing the aging apartment complexes, razing them and selling the land to commercial developers.
“In the name of Jesus, you are the answer more than mayors or the City Council,” Carolyn Davis prayed aloud.
She said if taxes are being raised to cause the residents to move, she didn’t see how the city was really helping them.
Willie Davis didn’t want to discuss the city’s involvement in Franklin Road, saying he was on the street to attend to people’s spiritual needs.
“We’re not here to regulate or arrest anybody,” Willie Davis said while stopping to shake hands with passers-by and wave at cars. “If I could arrest the devil and put him in Cobb County jail for life, I would.”
To inquire about future prayer vigils, contact Willie Davis at firstname.lastname@example.org or Moss at (770) 693-2546.