On June 9, the Methodist University community gathered on campus at noon for a prayer service to recognize the grief and suffering of the 100,000 lives lost in the U.S. alone to the global coronavirus pandemic and to mourn the death of George Floyd and all those who have died under the sin of systemic racism.
A crowd of more than 30 students, faculty and staff – including its president and vice presidents – donning masks and practicing social distancing, participated in the prayers.
Leading the service was University Chaplain Rev. Kelli W. Taylor. “We acknowledge the sufferings of these persons and families and whole communities whose lives have been touched by this unfathomable virus and those lives shattered by racial disparities, of looting and violence, of hatred or murder. We come together to offer prayers of lament and grief,” said Taylor, who also serves as the university’s vice president for Religious Life. “We also come together to offer words of hope. We are a people of faith, based in the virtues of love, justice and truth.”
MU Police Officer Lester Lowe read words of lament from Psalm 42 and Lynetta Allen-Geddie, director of Health Services, offered words of reflection.
Rev. Dr. William Walker, vice president for Student Affairs and dean of students, read through a recent list of victims who suffered at the hands of systemic racism and offered up a prayer of lament and hope for racial justice asking, “to allow thoughts of reconciliation to permeate through our tactics and strategies to bring about a change. Give us the passion,” he continued, “and most of all the will to bring about true change, so systemic racism can be eradicated on every level.”
“It was an honor to offer prayer at Methodist University’s Prayer Gathering of Lament and Hope today,” said Walker. “The service signifies the University’s commitment to racial dialogue, understanding and healing. I look forward to our future work in this area.”
Professor of music Dr. Larry Wells led the service in song. He performed songs such as “O Day of Peace,” and “Amazing Grace” on the trumpet. MU student Nicholas Roberts sang and the director of Campus Recreation and Intramural Programs, Dr. Clifton Bobbitt, read Psalm 56 followed by words of hope read by Taylor from Romans 8:31.
Wells concluded the service with a rendition of “When the Saints Go Marching In.”