Prayer service seeks answers to violencePublished 8:32pm Saturday, February 23, 2013
A small gathering of worshippers at Freeney Avenue’s In God We Trust Ministries on Saturday heard an at times fiery meditation on America’s gun violence.
Gates of Heaven Church of God in Christ Superintendent Sylvester Silver, delivering the spiritual inspiration at the prayer service for Suffolk schools, reflected on what he considers the ills of the modern era, where spirituality and respect of elders are lacking.
“If more churches will lose their self-identity to the point where they can become one … we will have a better community,” Silver proclaimed.
“It’s safe to say that today we live in a different America. I think some of you can remember when, along with the Pledge of Allegiance, the prayer was said at the start of every school day. That’s long gone.”
Silver recalled a time when “’yes ma’am,’ ‘no ma’am’ was a consistent reply when speaking to anyone considerably older.”
“From whom did this lesson come?” Silver asked. “From the homes of parents where parents felt respect was needed … if that child was going to have any hope of success in life.”
The prayer service was in response to December’s Connecticut school shooting and other recent episodes of gun violence in America, explained the Suffolk church’s founding minister, Calvin Franklin.
“What has turned our schools from places of contentment to become the halls of fear and terror?” Silver again asked.
“Today, we debate in America selling guns to our school boards so we can arm our teachers who teach our children. … How is it that we as a nation appear to be more concerned by the sales of guns than about the safety of our school and safety of our children?”
Silver was also critical of the skills of modern parents, who too often, he said, are friends to their children and not disciplinarians.
“Stop trying to live re-live your teenage years through your daughter,” he said. “Don’t send your daughter to school (dressed) like a hoochiemama. If she ain’t selling fish, take down the sign; don’t have your daughter looking like a hooker.”
Silver’s central message was a return to prayer. “It’s prayer time,” he said.
Co-Pastor Joyce Wooden said the Connecticut school shooting affected everyone “as members of the human family.
“We’re here today to lift our voice together in prayer and make our petitions known before God … for his prevention and for his protection.”