A Year in Review: Binding Lives Together

A Year in Review: Binding Lives Together
A Year in Review: Binding Lives Together

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Binding Lives Together—Seeking Unity & Reconciliation Through Christ: Calvary Montclair Leads Community Prayer Walk

Story by Margot Bass
Photos by Jonathan Towns

As nearly 50 believers in Montclair, CA, completed a prayer walk asking God to heal sinful hearts and reconcile a divided country, one small group quietly pulled away. Seven men and women—each a slightly different shade of skin color—held hands in a close circle outside the police department, praying for unity. The circle was made up of prayer walkers, as well as several people who had come separately to peacefully protest racial injustice against African Americans.

The prayer walk was organized in part by Joe McTarsney, senior pastor of Calvary Montclair, a volunteer chaplain for the Montclair police and fire departments, and Vicki Brobeck, a fellow chaplain. After opening with prayer, the group proceeded slowly, ending at the police department’s flagpole for more prayer and worship, including a rousing rendition of “Amazing Grace.” The walkers met protestors along the way, and one of the Calvary Montclair believers approached the group to politely share why they had gathered. Edwin Ragay explained, “We wanted to tell them that we were there for prayer and to support the community and police department.”

Policeman looking at child

Children get acquainted with Montclair Police Chief Robert Avels during the prayer walk. Their parents were peacefully protesting racial injustice across the street from the prayer walkers.

That led to a conversation with a protestor, an African American woman who responded that she, too, was a Christian. Later, the woman and her adult son crossed the street to talk more with the prayer walkers. Edwin related, “Before we finished, we held hands with them and just prayed for the Lord to move in each one’s heart and that we would be able to trust that the Lord is in control.”

Kristina Towns, an African American member of Calvary Montclair, talked to the protestors as well. “Part of the reason that people protest is that they’re not feeling heard—not by their officials, people in their community, or in general. We have to pray over them because it’s a spiritual battle. We know there is righteous anger, but it’s not permission to sin. While there’s nothing wrong with protesting and being heard, holding onto that anger is not good,” she remarked. “The reality is that no matter how you’re feeling, the answer is Jesus. Let’s point them to Jesus.”

Group of people holding signs waiting at stoplight

The prayer walkers from several churches wait to cross the street.

Learn to do good; seek justice, rebuke the oppressor; defend the fatherless, plead for the widow. Isaiah 1:17

It was the first prayer walk for many who attended, Joe said. “We’re called to go out into society and be salt and light. That’s what the first disciples did. Even with the unrest and COVID-19, God is calling us to reset, refocus, re-energize, and refill for His mission,” he exhorted. “I believe that God is positioning His church [for righteous action] as we have gotten back to what the church is supposed to be about—equipping people with the Word of God so they can let their light shine so that people can see their good works and glorify their Father in heaven (Matthew 5:16).”

Group prayer

Calvary Montclair believers, and protestors from another group, pray for unity. The group shared fruitful conversation before praying.


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All verses above are quoted from the New King James Version, unless otherwise noted.

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