Monday, April 16, 2001

Easter worshippers pray for healing

By Tom O'Neill
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        Easter Sunday was peaceful in Cincinnati but the effects of the week's violence were seen and heard at Tristate churches.

Yvonne Mayes of Westwood prays with the choir at the New Friendship Baptist Church.
(Jeff Swinger photo)
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        Attendance dropped 75 percent at a Catholic church in Over-the-Rhine. A prominent black minister used his sermon as a way to call for the city's resurrection. In some suburban churches, there was no mention of the tumultuous week but in others worshipers were told their Christian faith links them to the pain and unrest.

        “We got some resurrecting to do in Cincinnati,” the Rev. Damon Lynch III told the 9 a.m. gathering at New Prospect Baptist Church in Over-the-Rhine.

        “And I know we will. I'm an eternal optimist. ... We need to start healing together, black, white, yellow and red.”

        Civil rights activist the Rev. Al Sharpton told members of New Friendship Baptist Church in North Avondale that Cincinnati's unrest is an alert for the country.

        At the nearby corner of 13th and Clay streets in Over-the-Rhine, parishioners of Old St. Mary's Catholic Church listened to the Rev. Albert Lauer thank God for sparing the church from harm.

        Much of the rioting and property damage occurred near the historic white and ivory church built in 1842. But while there was no physical damage, the church lost about 75 percent of its Easter crowd — or about 500 people — for its German Mass, said Father Lauer.

Pastor Lew Davis of the Tri County Baptist Church in West Chester didn't mention last week's unrest.
(Gary Landers photo)
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        Many church services held outside the areas most hit by the unrest — Over-the-Rhine, Walnut Hills, Avondale and the West End — referenced the violence.

        At Knox Presbyterian Church in Hyde Park, the Rev. Thomas D. York, pastor, prayed for wisdom and healing in the city.

        “Bless those who hold offices in this city,” the Rev. Mr. York said. “Help them use wisdom to serve faithfully and promote general welfare. Use your light to guide us. ... that hatred cease. And with our divisions healed, we might live in justice and peace.”

        The Rev. Lew Davis of Tri-County Baptist Church in the booming Butler County community of West Chester made no mention during his Easter sermon of Cincinnati's civil disobedience this past week.

        The riots were addressed during a Wednesday service, he said. But Rev. Mr. Davis did not revisit the subject with the nearly 1,200 people who came out to the 10:45 a.m. service Sunday.

        “Today, it was not part of where we wanted to go,” he said. “Why we're here is the resurrection (of Jesus). But folks here are very much into it. They're very much a part of the concerns.”

        Staff members Jennifer Mrozowski, Amy Higgins and LeeAnn Ruibal, and contributors Dave Eck and Mara H. Gottfried assisted in reporting this story.


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