Sanford Pastors Unite in Trayvon Martin Tragedy

Sanford, Fla., pastors stood united on Friday morning in front of Holy Cross Episcopal Church to declare unity among local clergy.

More than 20 pastors crossed ethnic and denominational lines in a pledge to work side-by-side to bring healing and reconciliation to the community in the wake of the tragic death of Trayvon Martin.

“We call not on our city but on our state and our nation to work toward reconciliation,” said Rory Harris, pastor of Holy Cross Episcopal Church. “There are certain things we need to deal with. There is work to be done. We have to get past this and move forward.”

Martin, a 17-year-old African-American, was killed by the 28-year-old George Zimmerman on Feb. 26. The Sanford community has seen protests and threats of violence from the New Black Panther Party for Self-Defense, a black political organization. In response, armed neo-Nazis are patrolling Sanford.

“We aren’t going to stand on the side of black or white,” said David Charlton, pastor of First United Methodist Church of Sanford. “We are standing on the side of justice.”

In one of their first moves to bring healing to the divided community, the pastors announced tentative plans for a citywide memorial service for Martin. The ministers are seeking the Martin family’s permission. Tim Waisanen, a local youth pastor, believes a memorial would help.

“Young people want to rally around a cause that’s greater than themselves. We believe this is a cause they can rally around,” he said. “We want to usher in a spirit of peace and healing and love.”

The overarching sentiment at the gathering was clear: oneness. Derrick C. Gay, pastor of Sanford's Dominion Church International who was involved in discussions around releasing the 911 tapes between Zimmerman and police dispatchers on the night Martin was killed, made it clear that the pastors were “casting aside our personal opinions” and praying for both the Martin and Zimmerman family, seeing justice for Martin and due process for Zimmerman.

The press conference comes a day after more than 80 pastors met in a Charisma Media conference room to discuss how to foster true healing and reconciliation amid the racial tension in Sanford. Raleigh Washington, president and CEO of Promise Keepers, whose mission is to issue a catalytic clarion call to the body of Christ and to hear and obey the Word of God in the power of the Holy Spirit, led the meeting. Bishop Harry Jackson, senior pastor at Hope Christian Church in Beltsville, Wash., also helped facilitate the multicultural meeting.

“You are not going to be able to come together with oneness unless you create an environment of repentance and forgiveness,” Washington said, noting that he was there to deal with the elephant in the room. “You have to have a heart of forgiveness.”

Jackson, a Florida native, noted that the “Martin problem” has been going on in the Sunshine State for years and offered some personal examples. Then he asked a pointed question: Are we going to solve it now? Jackson led the room of pastors and spiritual leaders in repentance, which saw people bowing down to their knees in prayer.

“I don’t know of a white pastor who wouldn’t go to the Martin family on their knees and ask for forgiveness,” said Joel Hunter, pastor of Northland, a megachurch in nearby Longwood, Fla. “We have to figure out what repentance looks like is what we are doing here.”

At the end of the meeting, Gay stood up and offered to lead the charge toward unity and to work with local pastors to bring the repentance, forgiveness, healing and reconciliation that needs to take place for the injustice dealt to Martin and many others in Sanford over the decades.

In a powerful move of the Holy Spirit, Sam Hinn, pastor of The Gathering Place in Sanford, stood up and offered to be "an Aaron or Hur" to Gay through this process. Other pastors rallied around the 32-year-old minister, who is an employee of Charisma Media, to lay hands and pray for him as the group of pastors bands together to heal a generation.

  • Chuck Pierce is calling the month ahead "critical."

    Chuck Pierce Prophesies 'Short, 10-Year Window' in the Nations

    Russia is a big part of what he sees.

  • Warring angels

    Prophetic Word: 'I Saw Angels at Almost the Speed of Light'

    Here is why you must pray them through for yourself and for your nation.

  • Cindy Jacobs is encouraging intercessors across the country to pray to keep the nation stabilized through December 19th.

    Cindy Jacobs Issues Critical Post-Election Prayer Alert

    Will you keep watching and praying?

  • Get the answer to your challenging circumstance in this insight from James 1:5.

    Early Warning Signs You're About to Make a Terrible Decision

    Is Holy Spirit sounding off these alarms in your life?

  • This revivalist had a vision of hell.

    Revivalist: I Went to Hell in a Dream

    After God took him on a prophetic journey, John Burton left with an important message for the ...

  • Don't let pornography impede God's plan for your life.

    How Watching Pornography Ruins the Destiny God Has for You

    If the devil can seduce you, he can reduce you.

  • Prophetic worshipper

    Prophetic Worshipper Kim Clement Passes Into Glory

    The prophetic worshipper has experienced health issues, including a brain bleed, for more than a ...

  • Victory not defeat

    Satan's Greatest Lie That Leads to Your Greatest Defeat

    Hint: Stop perpetuating this with your own mouth. It's a huge part of the battle.

  • Continue Your Journey with the Holy Spirit

    Continue Your Journey with the Holy Spirit

    Follow God on the most fulfilling journey of your life with Encounter the Holy Spirit! Break away from past hurts and press into the One who wants a personal encounter with you.

  • Dream the Unimaginable In His Presence

    Dream the Unimaginable In His Presence

    Reach your full potential and be led by His Spirit. In His Presence takes you to a deeper understanding of who God is and how he communicates with us.

  • Set Your Spirit on Fire

    Set Your Spirit on Fire

    Receive the power and gifts that come through the Holy Spirit Baptism. Don’t go empty-handed; accept all that He has for you! His power is available to those who ask.

  • Put on the Full Armor of God

    Put on the Full Armor of God

    Break every stronghold with the power of the Holy Spirit. Use the power of your tongue to declare and decree the Word of God. Witness heaven move on your behalf.

Use Desktop Layout
Charisma Magazine — Empowering believers for life in the Spirit