BILOXI, MS (WLOX) - The Biloxi church that's been home to generations of fishermen lifted prayers Friday for police officers. St. Michael's Catholic Church hosted a noon-hour prayer service in response to the ongoing violence against police.
It was a call to a higher power, along with a call to action.
Though small in number, the 50 or so gathered shared the sense of helplessness and concern that so many people feel about the ongoing violence.
"What can we do to clean up our own backyards, to help the police," asked the Rev. Greg Barras, who led the prayer service.
His main message was a call to conscience. Each person is called to be accountable and responsible for making our world a more compassionate place.
"We are responsible to do something, to help the policemen, to help whoever we are blaming and shaming to take care of everything. So, the hope was simply to raise our conscience and then go talk to our neighbors and raise their conscience. To do the good. To do the right," said Barras.
"Give us this day, our daily bread," the congregation spoke, praying the Lord's Prayer together.
The interdenominational prayer gathering included more than a dozen first responders. Among them was a group of Biloxi police officers.
For those who wear the uniform, the series of officer shootings is a painful and present reminder of their calling.
"It's real tough, but we've just got to keep moving on. We've got to keep doing. That's what we swore to do is serve the public, and that's the attitude of everybody," said Biloxi Assistant Police Chief Rodney McGilvary.
Those gathered shared prayer concerns and raised their voices to sing "Amazing Grace."
The parishioner who helped organize this impromptu prayer service said people don't have to feel helpless or hopeless.
"We have strength in unity. We can all pray, and there's power in prayer. Coming together and praying is what it's going to take," said Kim Dossett.
"Evil does exist, and the scriptures tell us about it all the time. Prayer hopefully lifts our minds and our hearts, but calls us into action," said Barras. "It's not just lip service. It's now I have the courage and strength to reach out with that presence of God to help."