Hand over hand, Como clergy, city officials and residents covered mourning families in prayer inside the gymnasium of Como’s Community Center.
Lake Como’s Neighborhood Advisory Council’s July 6 meeting was originally scheduled to discuss design plans for improvements to Horne Street, the main corridor in Como. Instead, Horne Street became the focus for a different reason – it was the site of a mass shooting July 3. Today, a makeshift memorial near the historic street honors the victims.
Days after shooting, the July 6 meeting pivoted to providing residents a space for tears and support.
“Como is stronger” because of the neighborhood meeting, said the Rev. Kenneth Jones, from Como First Baptist Church. “We heard, we embraced and we cried.”
Jones also shared his apologies to the families for the turnout of an emergency meeting hosted July 5 at his church where residents and community leaders asked for the city and county to help prevent future tragedies and for gun reform. While Fort Worth officials, Como residents and media packed his pews, the victims’ families weren’t invited, Jones said.
“Yesterday was really initially set up for just clergy,” Jones said of the emergency meeting. “Then it morphed into individuals sending it out that it’s open for the community and then people just started showing up,” Jones said. “We heard the pain of those who are victims. We apologize for our actions with regards to that.”
Jones was one of the several faith leaders at the Neighborhood Advisory Council meeting and led the community through the prayers Thursday night. Ella Burton, president of the Neighborhood Advisory Council, said the meeting was primarily an opportunity for the community to support the families who lost loved ones.
The shooting is tragic, Burton said following the meeting. However, through the community coming together, healing is possible.
The advisory council, pastors, nonprofits and the city plan to provide resources and support to the families, she said. City Council member Jared Williams, who represents Como, attended the meeting. Afterward, he said stopping gun violence is his top priority.
“I don’t like that this is my No.1 issue,” Williams said.
The advisory council outlined an action plan that includes 10 statements mourning the deaths of the victims and affirming that the event did not reflect the Lake Como community. It also calls for Fort Worth, state and federal lawmakers to take accountability to prevent future shootings.
“‘One Community and One Love’ is our motto and our call to action,” the statement concludes.
W.L.D. Campbell, pastor of West Mount Moriah Baptist Church, grew up in a quiet, Christian block in Como, he said. During the meeting, Campbell led a prayer for the mourning families and the injured victims.
“The spiritual guidance that’s needed right now is paramount. The community needs healing and his restoration and his encouragement,” Campbell said.
Unlike Campbell and Jones, some of those victims are fairly new to Como, said Elmo Neal, from Emmanuel Missionary Baptist Church. Neal came to Thursday night’s meeting to give his support to the families and those severely impacted by the tragedy.
“We needed to embrace each other today,” Neal said. “We needed them to know that they are part of this community.”
Campbell and other faith leaders have already started reaching out to funeral homes in Fort Worth, as a way to help the mourning families coordinate burials for their lost loved ones, he said.
Following the meeting, Campbell, Jones and other pastors are planning to coordinate a visit to the homes of the victim’s families in Como to provide prayers along with material support.
“We’re going to have a gift in our hand. We’re not going to go by just offering prayers. We want to have something in our hands,” Campbell said.
Marissa Greene is a Report for America corps member, covering faith for the Fort Worth Report. You can contact her at email@example.com or on Twitter at @marissaygreene.
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