BY ANDREAS BUTLER
Even though they didn’t know the victims, clergy and members of Daytona Beach’s Black churches gathered Wednesday to offer up prayers for those affected by the massive tornado in Oklahoma.
A prayer service, organized by the Daytona Beach Black Clergy Alliance, was held at Tubman-King Community Church at noon.
“Our special events coordinator, Rev. Monzell Ford, thought it would be appropriate that the clergy do a memorial in support of those devastated in Oklahoma. We got the word out and came out to lift up in prayer. We can’t be there, but we can pray for them,” said the Rev. Dr. Ronald L. Durham, pastor of Greater Friendship Missionary Baptist Church.
On Monday, a tornado ripped through Moore, Okla., killing 29 people including nine children. The storm also injured 240 other people and 2,400 homes were damaged in the cities of Moore and Oklahoma City.
Reports on Wednesday indicate that about 10,000 people have been displaced because of the tornado.
The tornado was 1.3 miles long and had winds ranging from 200 to 210 mph, which would make it a category EF5 storm – the most powerful of its kind.
‘Could have happened here’
“Prayer is the key that unlocks relief for those affected by the storm.
We pray that these prayers reach those families and neighborhoods.
Although this happened in Oklahoma, we are all one community. This could have happened here,” said Durham.
Prayers at the Daytona Beach service went up for the first responders, children, government officials, communities impacted by the disaster, families of those who died and were injured, volunteers and victims.
Pastors who are members of the Black Clergy Alliance and a few others from the area led the prayers.
Offering to help victims
The organizers said they accomplished their goal.
“I think that the prayers were spirit-filled and focused. I think that we accomplished what we aimed to do. We wanted to lift up prayer for the victims of the storms as well as draw our community together,’’ commented Bishop John T. Long of Tubman-King.
“We are familiar with storms. We have had hurricanes here in the past. We asked for prayer, now we pray for others.’’
An offering also was taken up for those affected by the tornado. Those funds will go to the American Red Cross to help with relief efforts.
Rain may have had an effect on the turnout on Wednesday. It also was held during the lunch hour.
Despite the rain and the short notice planning the event – it was organized in 24 hours – Durham and others were pleased with the participation. About 40 people attended the prayer service.
“This is the mission of the church. We are here to help people in ministry. If we don’t come together, are we living up to the mandate and charge that we have been giving as servants of God,’’ Durham asked. “This is a natural byproduct of what we do on a day-to-day basis in our churches.’’