Wednesday, June 10, 2020

Pottstown Clergy Offer Prayers of Mourning, Lament

As the nation, and Pottstown along with it, struggles under the burden of a world-wide pandemic, and a worldwide reaction to the police killings of African-Americans, a group of 14 area clergy turned where one might expect them to turn for comfort -- to prayer.

The clergy, all members of the Pottstown Ministerium, conducted a socially distanced Prayer Service to Mourning and Lament Wednesday evening in the prayer garden outside First Presbyterian Church.

"It is a privilege, not to be taken for granted, that we are able to come together and pray today in this season, this strange season of COVID pandemic, and in this greivous time when the underbelly of racial injustice and violence has been laid bare once again," said the Rev. Kerry Pidcock-Lester, co-pastor of First Presbyterian Church.

They prayed for those who have been lost to the coronavirus.

They prayed for doctors, nurses and medical staff.

They prayed for hospital and hospice chaplains.

They prayed for first responders.

They prayed for hospital and hospice chaplains.

They prayed for funeral home directors and staff.

They prayed for teachers and school principals.

They prayed for government leaders.

They prayed for police and police chiefs.

They prayed for "those who bear the burden of racism."

They prayed for peaceful protesters and rally organizers.

They prayed for essential workers.

And they prayed for "those who have no one to pray for them.

Participating were: 
  • The Revs. Kerry Pidcock-Lester and Carter Lester, co-pastors of First Presbyterian Church in Pottstown;
  • The Rev. Vernon Ross, the Rev. LeRoy Burger, assistant pastor and Lori Hutchinson, associate pastor from Bethel Community Church of Pottstown;
  • Rabbi Ira Flax from Congregation Hesed Shel Emet in Pottstown;
  • The Rev. Frances Chester pastor of Falkner Swamp United Church of Christ in Gilbertsville;
  • The Rev. Joshua M. Caler, rector, and Dennis Coleman, deacon, of Christ Episcopal Church in Pottstown;
  • The Rev. Justin Valentine, pastor of Kingdom Life Church in Pottstown;
  • The Rev. Nichole Jackson, pastor of Trinity United Church of Christ in Pottstown;
  • The Rev. Austin Chinault, pastor of Zions United Church of Christ in Pottstown;
  • The Rev. Jessica Scott, pastor of Temple of Prayer in Pottstown;
  • The Rev. Kay Braun, pastor of St. James Lutheran Church in Pottstown;
  • The Rev. Marcia Bailey, pastor of First Baptist Church in Pottstown
The prayer event was livestreamed on Facebook and is now posted on YouTube.

"We are mourning the lives of those who have died from COVID-19," said Ross, who is also the president of the Pottstown Ministerium. "And we are remembering and mourning those who were killed through violence at the hands of police."

In her prayer for police and police chiefs, Jackson prayed that they "wield their power with justice."

In is prayer for government leaders, Chinault said the "great discord in this country is a burden on all these leaders. Help them put the needs of all people above any self interest. We pray for real courage, real loyalty to you and that they remember the purpose of human existence."

In her prayer for funeral directors and staff, Braun prayed they offer "hope and comfort as they walk the valley of death with those in their care and strength in these days of too much death."

In his prayer for protesters, Burger hoped God will support "peaceful protesters who, when society cried out that all is well, know all is not well, whose hearts burn with justice for all."

In her prayer for "essential workers," Bailey thanked them for "working so our lives may continue with a few inconveniences as possible. And may they never again be taken for granted, overlooked or underpaid."

Coleman prayed that "those who are lost, lonely, bewildered, abandoned, for those who have lost their faith, may they find help and hope. And may God turn us into those people who would offer it."

In closing, Pidcock-Lester offered a prayer from South Africa which read, in part, "may we never be afraid to defend the weak because of the anger of the strong. May we never be afraid to defend the poor because of the anger of the rich."

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