In a show of solidarity and faith, members of the community gathered in Frazier Park Wednesday to invoke the power of God and seek protection over Covington in the wake of several recent tragedies.
Led by passionate speakers, the prayer vigil emphasized the importance of seeking divine intervention and surrendering individual will to a higher purpose.
The service honored Tamya Ewing-Somerville, Kelvin “KJ” Stowers Jr., and Tamia Taylor.
Tamya, who turned 20 on Aug. 16, was killed during a mass shooting on Saturday, Sept. 23. Four others were also shot as gunfire erupted both inside and outside The Event Center. Those in attendance were as young as high school and have been traumatized by the violence.
KJ, who turned 26 on Aug. 20, was shot in a vehicle and left for dead on a Nashville street Saturday morning. His parents, Kelvin Stowers-Eaton and Quincy Currie, are from Covington. On Tuesday, 28-year-old David Henry was arrested and charged with KJ’s murder. A balloon release to honor his life will take place at Covington High School on Saturday evening.
Tamia went missing on Saturday, Sept. 9 after a Mississippi riverboat cruise with friends. She was celebrating her 21st birthday.
The losses, which all came during the same weekend, are hard for the Covington community.
“Our community is definitely hurt,” said mayor Jan Hensley. “We went through tornadoes, but worse than tornadoes [are] the tornadoes in the heart that tear up each other. The hate, the gunshots, the violence, the crimes. Our police can only do so much. Everybody, every brother and sister, mother and father has got to chip in and be part of this. And only God can get in here and fix it.
“As I come before you today, I just want us to really think about the ones that are hurting. We got mothers that have lost children, fathers have lost children, brothers and sisters that have lost each other, we got children have lost mothers. And we just need to really pray and get right, see if God come down here and intervene on top of us.”
In attendance were dozens of members of the Boys & Girls Club of the Hatchie River Region. During the service they knelt together, and held each other, as they prayed with the speakers.
When Sheriff Shannon Beasley spoke, he pointed to them and reminded the crowd why they were there.
“If you look over here to my left sitting on the ground, this is our future,” he said. “This is what we have to work for. This is who we work for and this is why we do what we do. Ladies and gentlemen, it takes a village to raise a child, right? It also takes that same village to raise our own village. We have to watch out for one another, folks.”
He also urged the public to share information they had that would help bring about justice for the victims.
Coming together in prayer, said St. Luke Missionary Baptist Pastor Dexter Moragne, could have generational implications. Quoting Rahab’s negotiation with a general, he urged attendees to symbolically hang a red thread outside their homes as a sign of God’s presence and protection for their families.
“If we could take some red ribbon and hang it outside of our doors, we can have the presence of God in our home and the death angel will pass it by because of the presence of God.”
The prayer vigil served as a powerful example of the unity and faith that can bring people together to address societal issues. It demonstrated the community’s strong belief in the power of prayer and the commitment to creating a safer and more harmonious environment for all residents.