There were pastors and musicians, congregation members and Allied Drive residents, all gathered at the Percy Julian Way Park in Allied Drive.
They were there for what the African-American Council of Churches called a Crusade for Peace, bringing together many congregations in a show of unity after a summer filled with shootings.
“We are here to bring peace to the neighborhood,” said Rev. Rick Badger of the New Beginnings Alliance Church in his opening prayer as about 50 people formed a circle around the stage. The gathering was the idea of Bishop Harold Rayford of Faith Place in Sun Prairie, the president of the AACC.
As Rev. Everett Mitchell, pastor of Christ the Solid Rock Church, told about his experience as a Dane County judge seeing too many troubled young women in court. “We need to see a community built up so our young people have a solid foundation,” Mitchell said.
“We have a great opportunity here in Madison,” proclaimed Rev. Alex Gee of Fountain of Life Church. He talked about how the churches in Madison know each other, how they can show a sense of unity that will help the community.
“Communities aren’t here to make us better,” Gee said. “We’re here to make the community better. Let’s pray for each other. Let’s make it better.”
There were prayers, often in the form of music, with Tamera Jennings-Stanley and a quartet of women from Mt. Zion Baptist getting the crowd involved. Marcus Fleming from Fountain of Life doing a solo, two women from Christ the Solid Rock pairing up.
And there was a plea from Rev. Marcus Allen, pastor of Mt. Zion Baptist Church. He told the story of Jesus sleeping in a boat when a storm came up and his panicked followers called for help.
He called on the crowd to “plea with Jesus to give us peace. We are calling on Jesus to come see about us.” Jesus could still the wind and the waves, or as Allen put it, “Jesus knew the wind and the wave language. When Jesus shows up, he has the power to speak, be still.”
Rev. Colier McNair, pastor of Zion City Church, wrapped things up with music and a message that fit the multi-church gathering in the park: “We live in a time when we’ve got to come outside the church to let the light shine.”