A small group of pastors and community members prayed for peace and justice during a vigil in East Austin Wednesday night. The solemn gathering was a contrast to protesters chanting around the Austin Police Department a mile away.
“It is a communal lament, a time to acknowledge brokenness in our society, and is itself an act of solidarity, specifically for us as the church with the black and brown communities and all communities of color,” said Aaron Reyes, lead pastor of Hope Community Church.
The group, organized by the Austin chapter of the Christian Community Development Association, marched from Comal Park to Christ Church in East Austin, where the vigil was held and streamed on Facebook. CCDA is a network of churches, businesses and nonprofit organizations across the country.
Behind the speakers, a table held the pictures of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and Mike Ramos, all of whom either died at the hands of police or in police custody. A fourth frame featured a picture of Ahmaud Arbery, who was shot and killed while jogging in Georgia. Three men are charged with murder in the case.
The speakers said that lament is a common theme in Christianity, engaging God during pain and troubled times. But they called for the Christian community to not just lament racial injustice but to also speak out against it and support the families of those impacted by police violence.
Carla Hernandez of Hope Community Church spoke about the pain of the family of Mike Ramos, who was shot and killed by police in Austin in April.
“We cannot even begin to imagine what that’s like,” she said. “We plead with you God to expose racism, defend black lives, show them your favor.”
Reyes urged pastors to create spaces where conversations about racial justice can be heard. He said a vigil is not enough when “lives and people’s health are on the line.”
“Let us not be content with what we just did,” Reyes said as the event ended. “Let us not think we’ve performed the work of racial solidarity and justice, it’s not a one-time thing.”
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