Oakland had 118 homicides last year, which again puts Oakland’s homicide rate higher than San Jose’s, San Francisco’s, and most other cities in California. St. Paul’s cannot close our eyes to this dreadful violence. The church must do some-thing, be an emissary for the Prince of Peace, be a beacon in this darkness. St. Paul’s does this with a ministry of presence. Pastor Mike McBride, an Oakland faith leader, has often stood in a gathering and said, in his booming voice: “Presence Matters!”. And it does, we all know it does. When a loved one needs support, we rush to their side, hold their hand to simply be with them. St. Paul’s stands with, walks with those who are trying to bring peace to the Oakland streets.
This takes three forms.
First, there are the Night Walks, sponsored by Faith in Action East Bay. Please see the sidebar for the times and locations of the Night Walks, and plan to attend one. In a Night Walk we meet at the named church, pray, then walk as a group through the streets of an impacted Oakland neighborhood. Our message is: we see you, you are not alone, we are with you.
Also, every second Saturday we join the members of True Vine Church for a Stand In, where we stand from 11Am until noon at a corner in West Oakland near where someone has been killed and loudly, with bull horns & chants, call on people to put the guns down, and let the community know that this cannot be just another blip on the nightly news, that this person was important and their death is not acceptable. The next Stand In is Feb 11, see the sidebar for the location, and do join us. It is a great experience, takes little time, and shows our support for our community. Finally there are various “Peace in the Streets” ral-lies that we attend.
The next is a large candlelight gathering where the organizers hope to encircle Lake Merritt with people holding candles, in silent prayer for peace. A flyer for that event posted on this page; if you are interested in it, or if you have questions, want to car pool to any of these events, or otherwise would like to talk, please email Paula Hawthorn at email@example.com.
Ceasefire Night Walks
At Ceasefire Night Walks, volunteers walk through communities affected by gun violence to spread a message of peace and connect residents with community and social services. Since most shootings in urban communities happen between 8pm and midnight, walkers take to the streets to give words of encouragement to people who may be at risk of being victims or perpetrators.
The Night Walks calendar is here. There have been times when the Night Walk is cancelled. Please contact Paula firstname.lastname@example.org to make sure it is really happening before you go.