Updated: September 20, 2021 01:34 PM
Created: September 19, 2021 05:00 PM
A Minneapolis church congregation is feeling personally impacted after a weekend of violence in the city.
Minneapolis police said that in span of 26 hours, 11 people were hurt in seven different shootings. Three of the victims are in critical condition.
The violence was the focus of prayer at New Salem Missionary Baptist Church Sunday morning. Pastor Jerry McAfee said for his congregation, the hurt is raw.
"The pain that exists within our conversation is real and it's raw and the challenge is to get them to a place where they can discover purpose in the midst in their own pain," McAfee said.
He woke up Sunday morning to a call from a member of the church, Jamica Timberlake, saying her son had been shot overnight. McAfee said Carltrell "CJ" Holden was shot in the neck while at concert last night. The pastor rushed to the hospital Sunday to pray for Holden ahead of morning church service.
"I shot down there pray for Jamica and the family and then came to church," he said, "Her life in many instances is on hold because we don't know how CJ is going to be. He's still here, which is a blessing.”
This is not the only violence that’s impacted the congregation. McAfee said the family of LaDavionne Garrett Jr. — the 10-year-old who was shot in late April — also attends New Salem Missionary Baptist Church.
"There is just so much going on right now with all the gun violence, with all the opioid deaths we have," Chasma Dixon said. She’s attended the church for 20 years and said the death and violence is overwhelming.
"We get a lot of funerals here, so not only do we have deal with it in the community, we also have to help bury the people," Dixon said. "This is a season that Minneapolis has seen before. This is not new. This is something we're trying to live through and get better at.”
The church hopes to be a place of healing and hope for its members.
"That's part of my job and responsibility as a pastor is to try to show them how to deal with it," McAfee said.
The most recent shooting come one day after local and state leadership shared an update on the "21 Days of Peace" initiative's progress. McAfee is one the pastors helping to lead the grassroots effort to patrol neighborhoods in hopes of curbing violence.
"To think that 21 Days of Peace is going to come and turn it all around in a few months is ludicrous," he said. "This is not a setback. I think it's a set-up for us to expand and for those who want to join us in this endeavor, because it is our belief that it takes all us operating cooperatively to make this thing work.”
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