09/15/13 — City rally focuses on power of faith

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City rally focuses on power of faith

By Josh Ellerbrock
Published in News on September 15, 2013 1:50 AM

"How many of you believe that God is going to do something awesome today?" pastor Terry Jones asked a gathering crowd.

With cries of affirmation, apparently, everyone did, and they were there to make it happen.

More than a thousand men, women and children of all races and denominations stood in the Goldsboro High School stadium to praise Jesus and, hopefully, make an impact on Goldsboro and its problems during the God Belongs in My City prayer walk held on Saturday.

Jones, an associate pastor at Place of Refuge Ministries, brought bands and entertainment for the crowd from other churches in the Goldsboro area to allow the crowd of churches to worship as one group.

Among the entertainers was the Bevel Church worship band led by vocalist Blake Holder.

As songs played out, Holder, 19, often appealed to the crowd to raise their hands in praise.

"C'mon! Is anybody excited about Jesus?!"

"Make it sound like you're excited to be here. Make some noise!"

And the crowd followed along, some clapping, others closing their eyes while holding hands in the air.

"I think (the event) unites all the churches from all the different backgrounds. It brings us together into one church -- the church of Jesus Christ," Holder said.

By bringing them together, ministry can spread without the churches working against each other, he said.

Organized for the first time last year by Jones, the God Belongs in My City prayer walk encouraged all churches to show that Christianity could make a change in the community.

The first God Belongs in My City prayer walk started in New York City in 2009 in response to an atheist billboard, and since then, similar walks have sprung up in cities around the world.

Jones heard about the prayer walks from his aunt, who lives in New York City. And last year, he decided to bring a prayer walk into Goldsboro after last year's string of summer murders.

As for the walk's effect, Jones mentioned crime statistics showing a decline in crime since last September -- the month of the last year's walk.

"I'm not here to say it was because of this, but it had a part to play," Jones said.

The official prayer walk, however, came after an hour of song and worship. At 5 p.m., the crowd started to move out to Beech Street, and this year, they took Jones' advice before heading east.

"Last year, I told everyone that once you get on Beech Street, wait until everyone gets there, but when I get there, y'all were gone," he said.

After the walk, the crowd came back to Goldsboro High School for food and a worship service.

Jennifer Toler and her group headed up the front of the roughly 2,000 prayer walkers.

She brought about 35 people, young and old, from Love Memorial Baptist Church to the event.

"Our city needs prayer," she said. "I want (the youth group) to understand that it's not about one denomination. We need to come together as a family and pray together as a city. We all want to serve Jesus Christ, and I want them to see that we are one church."