Display of crosses represents hope for a violence-free Louisville

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by Adrianna Hopkins

WHAS11.com

Posted on December 6, 2009 at 7:35 PM

Updated Sunday, Dec 6 at 8:43 PM

On this second Sunday of Advent in the Christian Church the theme is Peace.

And at Highland Baptist Church Pastor Joseph Phelps and his members realize for families who've lost a loved one because of violence, having peace may be difficult.

So to honor those families and remember the dead, they read a list of names of those who were killed in Louisville this past year. As the names were read, church members walked to the pulpit to get a cross. The cross represents someone they'd probably never known, but someone who died because of violence.

For the 13th year in a row, they walked outside and on the lawn of the church and hammered 68 crosses into the ground.
"It says to us that the churches need to ban together, not only to lament violence but to ban together to ask the questions about why, why are people so angry, why are they resorting violence?" said Pastor Joseph Phelps.

"Violence that tears at the fabric of society tears at every body's society. And lowering violence across this community and this world is one of the highest callings we can have," said Church Member Bruce Maples.

And for Terri Connolly, this is personal. Last week, a former student of hers, 21-year-old Joseph McNealy, was killed in the Russell Neighborhood.

Connolly said, "It just broke my heart to see his name among those we remembered today." 

"It touched me deeply to be able to remember him and to do that for his family and his friends and for all of those who suffer from violence in this community."

Church members say this display of crosses also represents hope for peace in Louisville.

"We realize that this is symbolic, but it's a way to call attention to the problem so that these people are not forgotten," said Maples.

"We're called as the church to be part of the witness of God in this world to believe that the despair that these crosses represent, that it's not the last word, that God is the last Word," said Pastor Phelps.

CLOUT, Citizens of Louisville Organized and Uniting Together, will meet Monday night a 6:00 p.m. at the intersection of 4th St. and St. Catherine St. in Old Louisville. The group of congregations will discuss how they can act to stop violence in the community.

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