07/25/10 — STOP the funeral holds prayer walk

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STOP the funeral holds prayer walk

By Laura Collins
Published in News on July 25, 2010 1:50 AM

Nearly 200 people from 22 area churches beat the heat Saturday to take part in the fourth annual STOP the Funeral Initiative unity prayer walk.

The event began in the parking lot of St. Mark Church of Christ and included several speakers, prayers and inspirational words from members of the faith community and leaders in the county.

Leading the prayer walk, which looped through West Haven Apartments, were representatives from area churches and the parents of Stacey Edwards, 19, who was murdered in May when he was shot as he was returning to mother's house for lunch after stopping at a local convenience store.

"His friends came running in the back of the house," said Edwards' mother, Paula Everett. "Stacey did not run in with them. When they went back out to look for him, someone yelled to call 911."

Edwards was fatally shot in the back. At his funeral, Mrs. Everett and her husband reaffirmed that they would be a part of the walk.

"This walk tells me that I'm not alone," she said. "My son did not die in vain. He died young, but not in vain."

She added that the cause is important because it brings awareness to violence in the community.

"My son died senselessly. That has hit home to me. People need to know what their kids are doing, what kinds of kids they have, what kind of life they're living. The boy that shot him didn't wake up that day and decide he was going to kill someone," she said.

Program Director Francine Smith said the death of Edwards has made this year's prayer walk personal for many involved.

"Today it's a wake up call. We want the community to know that the faith community cares," she said. "(The walk) is bringing awareness to the drug and gang violence and how senseless it is."

Before and after the walk, the group leaves information in the neighborhood about the walk and the organization. Throughout the neighborhood, some residents came out and stood on their porches to watch the walk and a few even joined in a portion of the walk. Though it's not a loud or long walk, those in attendance pray for the area.

"As we walk, we pray and everywhere the soles of our feet touch, we claim in the name of Jesus," said the reverend Mickael Stephens, pastor of Christian Life Missionary Baptist Church.

The STOP the Funeral Initiative was created following the murder of a young woman at a funeral several years ago. It is a collaborative effort of Rebuilding Broken Places CDC, the Goldsboro-Wayne branch of the NAACP and the Wayne County Faith Initiative aimed at developing awareness of drug and gang violence in the community.

Goldsboro City Council member Michael Headen read the city's proclamation about the walk then encouraged the group to continue its efforts.

"I applaud everyone here today," he said. "It is such a worthy cause and we can never, never stop doing this."