Community holds prayer vigil for shooting victims

(Source: WTOC)
(Source: WTOC)
(Source: WTOC)
(Source: WTOC)
(Source: WTOC)
(Source: WTOC)
(Source: WTOC)
(Source: WTOC)

SAVANNAH, GA (WTOC) - A Westside Savannah congregation is stepping up to wrap their arms around the families of gun violence victims in the community.

Temple of Glory Community Church opened their doors all day Monday for prayer. It culminated in a prayer vigil for 17-year-old Tristan Gray. Gray was gunned down on Pennsylvania Avenue last week.

Church leaders hope the event offers comfort, healing and encouragement. The night also was an opportunity to reach out to the youth of Savannah in an effort to keep them out of the crosshairs of gun violence.

Four orange ribbons hang from a fence at Asbury Memorial United Methodist Church, representing the four lives lost in 2017 to gun violence. One of the recent names is Gray.

"The shooting late Friday and the other on Thursday made it for a tough Sunday to have to name three names during the service," said church administrator Randy Canady.

The church started this in 2015 to remember those killed on Savannah's streets. They hope it encourages members and people passing by to pray.

"For all of the troubled souls that create this violence, but not only that but the families who have lost loved ones because of violence," said Canady.

Across town, another church also remembering victims. Specifically, Gray and 19-year-old Javonte Reed. Both members lost their lives in the last two months.

"We shouldn't have the violence that we have and I'm a firm believer that the body of Christ has to step up and take a rightful place," said Bishop Matthew Odum.

Bishop Odum remembers Gray as an intelligent, well-mannered teen destined for great things.

"17 years old. His whole future in front of him," said Odum.

Unfortunately, his life ended last Thursday. This prayer vigil hopefully eases the enormous pain and grief families are experiencing.

"Ms. Gray, Ms. Reed and all of these other moms are all over this community are going to, God's going to see them through," said Odum.

Odum said the two recent deaths rocked the church like it hasn't felt before. He knows the congregation will get through it together.

"I think we rise based on our faith. We rise based on our belief in God. I believe we are strengthened through fellowship," said Odum.

That fellowship was on full display Monday as the community came together to remember the lives of these two teens.

Police have made an arrest in Reed's death. So far, Gray's killer is still on the loose. We have not heard what led to either of these shootings.

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