LOUISVILLE, Ky. (BP) — Kentucky Gov. Matt Bevin called faith community leaders from across the state to a meeting June 1 to share ideas for how they can help curb crime issues that plague various communities.
Bevin’s proposal, in short, is to prayerwalk and engage with the communities that need it the most.
“The lieutenant governor and myself laid out a very simple request to people: It is harnessing people of faith to pray for the community, engage with the community by physically walking blocks in that community, praying for the community …,” Bevin said in a news conference after the meeting in West Louisville.
“It doesn’t matter the age of people; we need young people and old people alike who genuinely believe in the power of prayer who want to [infuse] respect, dignity and hope into those communities and want to do that by physically being in those communities and walking around them,” Bevin said.
Acknowledging and addressing concerns with the proposed plan, Bevin added, “There is no single solution. There is no one thing that is going to fix what ails our communities at all. What we proposed today was a single component of many things that need to be done.”
Josh Landrum, lead pastor at Bullitt Lick Baptist Church in Shepherdsville and second vice president of the Kentucky Baptist Convention, told the Western Recorder newsjournal, “In essence, during his address Thursday morning Governor Bevin stated that problems of violence and community disorder in Louisville [and in the world in general] are matters of the heart.”
Bevin’s assessment of today’s spiritual problems, Landrum said, “is absolutely, unequivocally, biblically true.
“I believe Governor Bevin’s challenge to prayer and involvement may be a wakeup call to churches across the Commonwealth of Kentucky,” Landrum added. “I would encourage pastors and churches to heed the call to prayer and involvement on the issues that are a matter of the heart and are harming communities.”
Voicing a measure of concern, meanwhile, Jamaal Williams, lead campus pastor of Sojourn Community Church Midtown campus in Louisville, said he commends Bevin “for his effort to galvanize the community. While he addressed the spiritual, it seemed like a missed opportunity to acknowledge the physical needs of the community. Nehemiah illustrated that effective prayer and economic provisions are wedded for lasting community transformation.”
Bevin presented maps of specific neighborhoods to focus the prayerwalking, urging people to take a 10-block radius and commit to prayerwalk it for a year. He put out his call to all faith leaders as well as residents and public officials. Bevin expressed his intention to join in various prayerwalks, although noting that his desire is for these to be organized “organically.”
“I’m not going to have a commissioner of prayerwalks. We’re not going to have 1-800 numbers and websites,” the governor said.
“You don’t need permission from me how to do it. You know, you walk to a corner, pray for the people, talk to people along the way,” he said, encouraging those who participate not to sing or chant or even wear group T-shirts but to simply “be pleasant, talk to the people, that’s it.”
Aaron Harvie, senior pastor of Highview Baptist Church in Louisville, said he was encouraged that “we have a governor in Kentucky who is not ashamed or afraid to call us to prayer. Governor Bevin did a fantastic job communicating his heart for the health of our communities.”
Now, Harvie said, “Our responsibility does begin with God’s people seeking and trusting Him through prayer. I am excited to join Governor Bevin in praying for our city and seeing Jesus change lives and our streets!”