Dozens of Pine Bluff residents prayed Tuesday in the name of Jesus Christ asking for victory in his name to heal the city at the Faith Community Coalition of Pine Bluff. The meeting took place at the fourth annual Pastors and Community Prayer Luncheon at the Pine Bluff Convention Center. Those at the event also sang and received a meal catered by Tyson Foods.
Groups prayed to God on the topics of the justice system, children and families, healthcare/eldercare, education, economic development, mental health, government officials, the faith community, revival, racial harmony, cooperation, unity and domestic violence.
The Rev. Stephen Harrison, vice chairman of the Faith Community Coalition and the senior pastor of Family Church at White Hall, opened the meeting with a call for Christians to unite.
“I want you to know that we are better together,” Harrison said. “We are better when we pray together. And the watching world around us is seeing if we love the Lord and how we love each other. We want Pine Bluff to be strong once again. The only way that can happen is for Jesus to be Lord of Pine Bluff.”
Pine Bluff Mayor Shirley Washington gave a message of being still before God and calling on his name. She asked for a spirit of unity because Pine Bluff has much at stake.
“The time is now like never before,” Washington said. “I believe that you already know that we are one Pine Bluff: stronger together. I am grateful to the Faith Community Coalition for hosting this event and showing us what we can achieve when we come together.”
The mayor continued: “We are living in tumultuous times. I pray for guidance so that when our city is faced with challenging decisions, God will provide us with wisdom in promoting the peace and the tranquility that we seek. Our kids are dealing with a lot from high school to elementary school [and] even day cares. I believe we can make an impact in the lives of our young people through mentoring programs.”
She called for parents to support children by supporting the teachers and offered prayers to businesses to bring rebirth to Pine Bluff.
She recited the Old Testament book of Isaiah chapter 58 verse 10: “To feed the hungry and help those in trouble, then our light will shine out from the darkness and the darkness around us will be bright as the noon.”
Washington urged each person to discover how they can improve Pine Bluff.
The Rev. Jesse Turner advocated for Go Forward Pine Bluff, an economic revitalization proposal that citizens would pay for with a five-eighths cent sales tax increase that supporters say would generate $32.5 million to help revitalize the city. A vote on the tax will be held June 13.
Grants and donations are expected to generate another $20 million in conjunction with Go Forward Pine Bluff. Turner also denounced racism. He thanked the volunteers, community supporters, and the Rev. Edna Morgan for making the prayer luncheon possible.
“We may have come over on different ships but we are all in the same boat now,” Turner said. “Some of those in Pine Bluff must understand if the work is good, it's God.”
He recited the Gospel of John chapter 10 verse 38: But if I do, though you did not believe me, believe the works. Turner applied this verse to Pine Bluff.
“We need to stop looking at skin color or who is doing the work,” Turner said. “It's not Mayor Washington. It's not [Simmons First Foundation chief executive officer] Tommy May. It's not even me. If our works are good, it's God.”
Turner denounced talking about 1930, 1940 and 1950 and whatever people were doing in those years.
“It's hard to drive a car when you're looking in the rearview mirror,” Turner said.
He told people to look at the works, rather than the people who are performing the works.
“We need everybody to be on board,” Turner said of Go Forward Pine Bluff.
The Rev. Edna Morgan called herself delighted to see people at the luncheon and to further the work of Jesus Christ. She prayed for healing in Christ, and offered thanks for each person. She prayed for direction in being more loving and kind. The Rev. Richie Hegwood is the worship pastor at Family Church played guitar and sang Christian worship songs. The Rev. Michael Williams sang a solo. The Rev. Kerry Price Sr. prayed in the name of Jesus Christ asking that every knee shall bow and every tongue will confess his Lordship. He asked the people to repeat and they followed suit.
Formerly the Church Outreach Committee, the coalition consists of Christian communities of Pine Bluff whose mission is to improve the lives of its residents.