Nearly a dozen of the region’s pastors and religious leaders led a group of about 50 people in words of Scripture, hope and unity Sunday afternoon during a prayer vigil for Isaiah Brown, his family and the county deputy involved in a shooting incident last month in which Brown still remains hospitalized in serious condition.
“What we hope to promote today is unity within our community to work through difficult circumstances together with unbiased grace, discernment, truth and love with an eye towards impartial justice,” said Temaki Carr, founder and CEO of Fredericksburg’s Loving the Nations Missions Ministry.
Carr is part of the One Church Rappahannock Region, a group of both Black and white evangelical Christian churches that formed following the death of George Floyd while in custody of the Minneapolis Police Department almost one year ago. That incident touched off anti-law enforcement protests across the country, including the Fredericksburg area, where local religious leaders marched peacefully in the streets among the crowds.
“We love Isaiah and we love the police department and today we intercede for our community,” Carr told the crowd.
Adam Blosser, senior pastor of Goshen Baptist Church in Spotsylvania, also prayed publicly during the vigil. He said the One Church organization has four pillars: Christ, unity, solidarity and justice.
“That kind of describes what we’re about with Christ being first,” said Carr.
Mike and JoAnne Wilson drove from Stafford County to attend the peaceful event, held under warm, bright sunshine on the steps of the Spotsylvania County government center.
“We’re all here, basically, praying for our country,” said Mike Wilson. “Yes, we are praying for the Brown family and for Isaiah, but we’re also praying for the police, because they’re not all bad. They do a tough job and they need prayer and they need support.”
During his prayer to the group, Robert Becker, pastor of New City Fellowship in Fredericksburg, asked God to stop the division in America—a message that was clear in each presentation.
“Oh Lord, we pray that we would be the one true church at this time and through it, you would do a mighty act and that all would know it’s by your hand that it has been done,” said Becker.
In addition to One Church Rappahannock Region members, Mozett Petway, president of the Spotsylvania County branch of the NAACP, said his organization hosted the 3 p.m. event, along with the Ministers Coalition of Spotsylvania and Surrounding Counties for Social Change.
Carr said the gathering was necessary today in the wake of Brown’s recent shooting, as some in the community are now feeling even more distanced and divided from law enforcement officers than they did one year ago.
Brown’s involvement in a case stems from an April 21 early morning domestic altercation call.
That morning, Spotsylvania Sheriff’s deputies were dispatched to the 12200 block of rural Catharpin Road where state police said a deputy, whose name has not been released by authorities, encountered Brown walking in the roadway.
Virginia State Police Sgt. Brent Coffey said the deputy attempted to speak to Brown and it was during the encounter that the deputy fired his weapon resulting in the 32-year-old being shot multiple times. The deputy immediately rendered medical aid before Brown was transported to Mary Washington Hospital, where he is still being treated for what authorities described as serious but non-life threatening injuries.
The Sheriff’s Office has released the 911 call and body camera footage of the shooting. The recordings indicate Brown was holding a cordless phone and the deputy may have mistaken the phone for a gun.
Blosser said he believes cases similar to Brown’s should be prayerfully examined before passing judgement.
“When these things happen, they have a potential to be divisive in a community, and as ministers in the region, we want to be able to come together and show the unity that we have in Christ and to cry out to God in prayer,” said Blosser.
Carr also believes Floyd’s death left America a useful foundation from which the Fredericksburg region and the nation can build on toward achieving absolute racial equality for everyone.
“Prior to George Floyd, we were not engaging this issue like we are now,” said Carr. “One year of doing this work is not going to solve the community’s issues or the nation’s issues, this has to be something that we continue to talk about and continue to work with, but we believe things are at least turned and heading into the right direction.”
Carr also said Sunday’s vigil might set an example for the rest of the nation to follow.
“We’re here in what symbolizes the birthplace of George Washington,” said Carr. “If we can get it correct here, then perhaps what we do can reverberate around the nation.”
Blosser said he believes God heard the prayers offered by those attending Sunday’s vigil and he believes God will answer those prayers in time.
“We’re trusting him for that,” said Blosser. “We can always pray at home, but I think there is something powerful about coming together as evangelical Christians to pray. He doesn’t always answer our prayers the way that we’d like him to, but we believe he answers our prayers.”
The shooting incident remains under investigation by the Virginia State Police Bureau of Criminal Investigation’s Culpeper Field Office, Police Shooting Investigation Team. Once that investigation is completed, Fredericksburg Commonwealth’s Attorney LaBravia Jenkins will review the findings and decide whether charges are warranted.
James Scott Baron: 540/374-5438