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Local church leaders offer prayer as solution to combat mass school shootings, and other issues

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A crowd sings praise and worship songs during the Cover our Children event at the Pitt County Courthouse.

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By Tyler Stocks
The Daily Reflector

Monday, September 10, 2018

Area church leaders and more than a hundred people gathered on Sunday at the Pitt County Court House to pray for a ''supernatural intervention'' to stop school shootings, tackle the opioid epidemic and to protect children from sexual predators.

The group known as Cover our Children hosted the service complete with praise and worship music, preaching, scripture reading and prayers from pastors representing several denominations in Greenville.

Although the gathering was planned last week, its timing could not have been more relevant  — it came just one day after a man was shot and killed in downtown Greenville after he allegedly fired a gun into a crowd.

Pastor Sydney Lockes, speaking after the service, responded to the shooting by saying that the violence must end.

“Unfortunately, that is the legacy that we're leaving to our young people,” Lockes said. “As a community — a believing community — we've been too guilty of letting things slide and get away from us. We really need to be more intentional, as this group is trying to facilitate, and cause to come to pass (that we are) taking children to God and God to our children.”

Lockes also said that too many people get caught up in the wrong crowd.

“It is important that these people know they have an alternative to not be swept into these other influential experiences and groups that causing them to be killed or murdered themselves or doing the same thing to others,” Lockes said.

Discussing school shootings, Debbie Sanders the organizer of the group said it is time for change and that children deserve to feel safe in school.

“We're looking to get good influences back into the schools,” Sanders said. “We have to change the fear of a place and work to provide a place of safety and security and to help meet the needs that administration is struggling with.

“We need to be supportive and make people aware that we have things going on in our cities and towns that are children are being affected by, and we need to get in there and do something about it,” she said.

Sanders also said that Christians must unite regardless of denomination.

“We as Christians need to come together and talk about this and talk with our law enforcement, talk with our school personnel to see what kind of ideas we can come up with to resolve a lot of the negative issues that are going on and to possibly prevent some of the shootings,” she said. 

Sanders said the solution to gun violence in schools is prayer.

“Prayer, for one thing, will help solve this,” she said. “But, God probably is the only one who can stop it. Thank goodness we have well-trained police and deputies in Pitt County but even they can't stop everything.

“It's going to be us calling on God, and all of heaven joining forces with Christians together to pray a hedge of protection around our schools and ask God to intervene and to bring his angels to help us,” Sanders said.

Sanders spoke about the importance of volunteerism and working to influence children in a positive way.

“We need to take our voices into schools, we need to take our servanthood into those schools and become servants and do what we can to assist them,” she said. “We need to put good Godly influences back into the schools to prevent some of the negative things that have been going on with our children.”

Renee Cairns, a volunteer who helps Sanders with Cover Our Children, said coming together as a community and putting prayer back in schools is the answer to mass shootings and tackling other issues like the opioid epidemic.

“It's time for us to do something and for the church to come together and pray over our children,” Cairns said. “Prayer is the solution to the problem and as churches must come together like we did today in a unified body and pray the covering over our children; I think that's the solution.

“Our goal is to get prayer back in schools where our kids can walk in the schools and not be afraid,” Cairns said.

Contact Tyler Stocks at tstocks@reflector.com or 252-329-9566. Follow him on Twitter @TylerstocksGDR