CINCINNATI -- Hundreds of people from 25 local churches braved the rain Saturday to march and pray for peace.
Leaders of the faith communities organized walks in 14 of Cincinnati's neighborhoods that have been hardest hit by violent crime. Those neighborhoods include: Mount Auburn, Evanston, Walnut Hills, Avondale, Over-the-Rhine, the West End, Fairmount, West Price Hill, Kennedy Heights, Northside, Mount Airy, Winton Terrace and College Hill.
After meeting at their places of worship, the congregations made their way to the streets in their respective neighborhoods to pray for peace and a stop to the violence that has "plagued our communities," said Rev. Jerron Gray.
Gray, an associate minister at Christ Emanuel Christian Fellowship in Walnut Hills, says locking up the city’s youth isn’t always the best solution. He believes helping kids turn around their lives, whether it be through prayer or hard work, is the best way to reduce crime and improve the city.
"This is a great city and we are asking the Lord's help to take our city back," he said.
While prayer was a major focal point of Saturday's spiritual protests against crime, the congregations weren't alone their efforts. They were joined by members of the Cincinnati Police Department, which helped come up with the initiative.
Police officials and church leaders have mutually extended an invitation to all members of the community, regardless of their religious beliefs, to join in similar hour-long walks over the next few weeks. They'll be held every Saturday at 4 p.m through Nov. 16.
Gray says participating in the weekly prayer walks helps build relationships with community members and show them they’re a presence in their neighborhoods.
If you weren’t able to make it to a walk on Saturday, Gray says you can attend a walk in any of the participating neighborhoods just by showing up.
Walkers are asked to meet at 3:30 p.m. at the following locations:
- Mount Auburn: Starts at New Unity Baptist Church at 2124 Burnet Avenue
- Evanston: Full Gospel Church at Five Points intersection
- Walnut Hills: Christ Emmanuel Christian Fellowship at 2400 May Street
- Avondale: Church of Living Good at Avondale Towne Center (Reading Road at Rockdale Temple)
- Over-the-Rhine: Prince of Peace at 1524 Race Street
- The West End: Bright Star at 809 Charlotte Street
- Fairmount: President Drive Church of Christ at 3671 President Drive
- West Price Hill: Shiloh United Methodist Church at 704 Elberon Avenue
- Kennedy Heights: First Baptist of Kennedy Heights at 6200 Kennedy Avenue (Kennedy Park)
- Northside: North Presbyterian Church at 4230 Hamilton Avenue
- Mount Airy: Truth and Destiny at 2645 West North Bend Road
- Winton Terrace: Starts at Four Points (Winneste Avenue at Dutch Colony)
- College Hill: College Hill Presbyterian Church at Cedar Walk