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Vigil held for 69-year-old fatally stabbed inside her East Baltimore church: ‘This community is filled with loving people’

Baltimore City leaders joined members of the Southern Baptist Church on Thursday night to hold a vigil for the 69-year-old woman who was found fatally stabbed inside the church earlier this week.

Outside the church, members of the community prayed for the family of Evelyn Player, a longtime church member and sexton at the North Chester Street church who police say was found stabbed to death in a church bathroom Tuesday.

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Player’s death shocked many in Baltimore and spurred Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan to offer a $100,000 reward for information that leads to an arrest, not a common move from the governor’s office.

The Rev. Donte L. Hickman, pastor of the 4,000-member Southern Baptist Church, said Thursday’s vigil was the first time church members had congregated together as a group in more than a year and a half, but that the church wanted to show that Player’s death will not rock their faith.

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“We had to come outside because we are the community,” Hickman said. “This community is filled with loving people.

“I want the devil in Hell to know we will not stop,” he added.

Before the vigil, many of those on hand, including Police Commissioner Michael Harrison, Mayor Brandon Scott, State’s Attorney Marilyn Mosby and Councilman Robert Stokes, joined community members to walk the surrounding neighborhood around Broadway East.

It mirrored the crime walks of old, with residents stopped to speak with city officials as they walked past crumbled doorsteps in front of abandoned buildings and surveyed the blight along with still occupied residences.

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Scott spoke briefly to the crowd, challenging the group to “not just show up here, but everywhere around the city” where there’s fatal violence.

Alethea Finch, Player’s daughter, fought through tears when speaking with reporters Thursday, saying she’s still trying to understand why someone would target her mother.

“I may never understand why,” she said. “But I trust in God and trust in that his faith will keep me going and I have my moments when I’m sad and today is one of those days.”

“It’s my mother, my best friend, and I miss her so much,” she added.

Wes Moore, a Democratic candidate for governor, told the crowd that Player’s memory will continue to live on in the community.

“They did not take Evelyn’s legacy, dear Lord,” Moore said. “Her legacy is right here surrounding all of us.”

With the city having reached more than 300 homicides as of Wednesday, some speakers also prayed that the city will be able to break the cycle of violence the city has witnessed for the past seven years.

Youth minister Terrence Rogers prayed for divine intervention, saying, “If we ever needed you before, God, we need you now.”

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