While several homeless people gathered on benches on the plaza outside City Hall on Palm Sunday, a crowd of 60 churchgoers from congregations around Baltimore stood at the front door to pray for them — and for other needs facing the community — at the 10th annual Blessing of the City.
"Thank you for letting us pray for the homeless today," said Kealiel Collins, 11, a parishioner of Metropolitan United Methodist Church in Lafayette Square, to God and the crowd. "Give the homeless their place in the world."
"Pray that we will extend a hand to those in need," added Quentin Klein-Alfano, an eighth grader at Roland Park Elementary and Middle School and a youth member of the Episcopal Cathedral of the Incarnation, in Charles Village.
Congregations participating in the event on Palm Sunday, which marks the start of Holy Week, included St. James Episcopal Church, which organized the event, Enon Baptist, Macedonia Baptist, St. John AME and Greater Immanuel Faith Temple. After the blessing, those gathered walked several blocks handing out palm fronds to passersby.
Organizers work each year to get more churches around the city to participate, said spokeswoman Allison Robinson, whose husband, the Rev. Allen Robinson, is rector of St. James.
"We would like to be embraced by all churches. That's a long-range goal," Allison Robinson said.
Verna Jones Rodwell, one of four City Council members who joined the morning service, gave thanks for passage of a $1 billion school construction bill by the Maryland House of Delegates, and also for the stated support of General Assembly leaders.
"Make sure our students are given an optimal opportunity to learn," he said in his prayer.
Also attending the Blessing of the City were City Council President Bernard C. "Jack" Young and council members Pete Welch and Brandon Scott.
"We govern from the secular, but our ministers govern from the divine," said Welch, who represents Lafayette Square, home to all but one of the seven churches that participated in the event.
Cathedral of the Incarnation, seat of the Episcopal Diocese of Maryland, participated for the first time and brought a contingent of 25 parishioners, clergy and youth members to City Hall.
"As followers of Jesus, we need to care about our city," said the Very Rev. Hal Ley Hayek, of the Cathedral of the Incarnation.
"The city needs prayer at the center of the city, because of the violence and lack of education," said Enon Baptist member LaTonya Summerville, of Pikesville, who came with her husband, Louis, and their daughter, Lyric, 1.
LaRissa Wise, another member of Enon Baptist, added, "We just need the city to understand that people care, and want the city to be glorious."Copyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun