Pastor planning walk for 'prayer'
By Phyllis Moore
Published in News on September 20, 2012 1:46 PM
God belongs in this city, just as much as, if not more than, drugs, crime and gang violence, Terry Jones says.
The concept is more than a fervent wish, though. It's a movement.
And on Saturday, the "God Belongs In My City" prayer walk will take place at Goldsboro High School at 4 p.m.
Jones, a teacher and basketball coach at Wayne Country Day School and associate pastor/youth pastor at The Place of Refuge Ministries, is event coordinator of the countywide effort.
"What we want to do is kind of bring a sense of unity to the community," he said. "We want to show our local pastors, churches, working in a way that we haven't seen in a long time."
He first learned about similar efforts from an aunt, who had encountered one in France while on vacation and later near her home in New York.
He investigated further online.
"I think it was 2009, there was a group of atheists who got together in New York and plastered billboards all across the city -- '1,000 atheists united without God,'" he said. "There was a group of young people that came afterwards from various other groups and started this concept. They put up posters, 'God belongs in my city.'
"That's how it began and of course in various cities, states and countries."
While Jones was interested in the concept, he felt the timing wasn't right.
That all changed a few months ago, in light of things going on locally -- crime, drugs, gang violence.
"We contacted the national organization and talked with them about it," he said. "They laid out a blueprint for how this (event) had happened in other cities and other countries. We kind of went from there.
"We're starting small but at the same time trying to make it a first-class event. The actual event will consist of a walk, about two miles through the city, and conclude at the GHS football field."
It will also feature speakers and a concert, featuring local and other talent.
Unity will be the prevalent theme, from the way it is designed to bring people together to the suggested dress code.
"It would have been so easy to just allow each church to wear their own T-shirt," Jones said. "We're pushing for all walkers and participants to purchase the 'God Belongs In My City' T-shirt.
"We want this to be a day where it's not about a church but it's about 'the' church. It doesn't matter on that day what church you come from, or who your pastor is, we're all brothers and sisters."
More importantly, Jones pointed out, is the aftermath.
"We want to make sure that the community knows it's not just an event. We want it to be a movement," he said. "We're already looking at doing it on a quarterly basis, and for us to continue getting together. Particularly for the young people, that's the heart. But the community at large is in need.
"We don't necessarily have all the answers but all of us have a responsibility to be a part of the solution. We all just simply want to do our part. It's certainly not going to be a one-hit wonder, a one-day thing."
The message is universal, Jones said. And everyone -- all ages, races and denominations -- is welcome.
"At the end of the day, we just want to walk together," he said. "It doesn't matter if you're a Christian, if you're a Muslim, crime is in all the neighborhoods. That's our target, to take a stand together. We have some things to bring balance to make sure that everybody is comfortable, no matter your denominational beliefs.
"We want to introduce the community to their other brothers and sisters that they may not have met, that they may not have seen or for that matter, may not have even known existed. We're believing that the community will be strengthened and impacted."
Jones said his name may be attached to the event but it has been a collaborative effort of many volunteers, pastors and representatives from around the area coming together.
"We have worked with the police department in order to get the permits to organize the route and everything, to have a reasonable and consistent traffic flow," he said. "I have sat down with the mayor and met with the City Council.
"We don't want to scare people with this kind of faith-based prayer walk thing. ... Today we have to take responsibility for our city and things that are going on in our area. We have to teach the children and encourage the children and take a stand. We just want to make it impactful, something that people will remember for a long time. We want it to be an experience."
More information on the walk can be found on at www.facebook.com/gbimcgoldsboro or on Twitter at gbimcgoldsboro.