Ron Kelly believes in prayer.
As the senior pastor at New Generation Christian Center of Lee’s Summit, Kelly is a big proponent of its power to help heal.
So with parts of the nation protesting against police brutality and holding mass rallies, Kelly wanted to bring something to the area that would bring community leaders and people of faith together.
New Generation was the site of a unity prayer vigil last Wednesday with City Councilman Allan Gray and Lee’s Summit Police Chief Travis Forbes as guests.
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Church members from different congregations throughout the metropolitan area were expected to join them to pray for families and communities affected by recent events involving police and the use of excessive force.
The vigil was also an opportunity for members to pray for police officers and their families.
“I didn’t want to exclude anybody,” Kelly said. “We need to come together and do what we need to do.”
Kelly said he felt obligated to do something locally to address the concerns of how police interact with minorities.
“I have a responsibility as being a predominately black church in a predominately white community to speak to what’s going on in our nation,” he said. “There is an alternative to some of the various protest and rioting and looting and things like that. I explained to our members that we have obligations as born-again Christians … to humble ourselves and pray.”
Forbes, hired as police chief in July, said the vigil gave him the opportunity to meet more people and continue the department’s public outreach efforts.
“I think it’s good to get out into the community and get to know people,” Forbes said. “I think this is a good opportunity to do that. We all have to get to know each other better. Police officers are human beings just like everybody else. I think the fact that they get to meet the head of this agency and other officers kind of humanizes what we do day in and day out.
“We’re just like everybody else in the community.”
Kelly said his wish is for city officials both sworn and elected to better understand the African-American community in Lee’s Summit. As a whole, Kelly said, the city does a fair job in addressing some of the concerns, but he wanted those officials to really pay attention to the concerns of African-Americans nationwide as well.
“This is not a moment,” he said. “We’re trying to make it a movement.”
Kelly also reiterated his stance that prayer is powerful in the healing process.
“It’s a sound bite and it sounds cliche, but we have a responsibility to do what we know how to do and that is to pray,” he said.