Gov. Larry Hogan attended mass at a Catholic church in the Sandtown-Winchester community Sunday, part of a "day of prayer and peace" he had declared in the wake of a tense week that saw looting and violence following the death of Freddie Gray.
"What we need is a lot of healing," the governor said at St. Peter Claver Catholic Church on Fremont Avenue. "There's long-term questions and issues about how we fix this, how we develop more trust between the community and the police, how we fix some of the over-arching problems.
"But today we're not going to solve that," he said. "Today, we're about having peace in the city."
About 250 people attended the 127-year-old church's Sunday service, presided over by Archbishop William E. Lori. Attendees included Hogan and his wife, Yumi, and their daughter, Jaymi Sterling.
The service started with a full-throated rendition of "We Shall Overcome" — one that had much of the congregation clapping by the verse that begins, "God is on our side."
"Freddie Gray was your neighbor, and his family members continue to be your neighbors," Lori said during his sermon, which touched on the underlying issues that plague urban neighborhoods. "Freddie Gray's death has brought to the surface many long-standing issues."
Gray died last month after suffering a spinal injury while in police custody. His death sparked more days of demonstrations, which erupted into rioting on Monday. Six Baltimore police officers were charged in his death Friday.
Lori urged those who are frustrated to seek answers "in a way that does not create more injustice and more destruction."
Hogan, who is Catholic, had called for the day of prayer Saturday night. He has moved his administration from Annapolis to a Baltimore satellite office to deal with the unrest.
"As we begin to rebuild and restore, let us renew our faith in the true spirit of our city and its people," Hogan said in a statement. "I pray that tomorrow will be a day of reflection and will serve as a foundation for how we all conduct ourselves in the days and months to come."
After the governor and his entourage had left, parishioner Deborah Holly said she hoped the spirit evident during Sunday's mass would continue, even after calm has returned to the city. And she hoped that politicians, residents and others focus on Baltimore even when there isn't a crisis.
"They need to come and be involved in the community," she said.
Lori said the healing process has just begun.
"The challenge is building the bridges," he said. "There's many people doing good things. We have to knit that together into a more effective network, involve the stakeholders, break down the mistrust and start tackling some of the systemic issues."
After Baltimore State's Attorney Marilyn Mosby charged the officers involved in Gray's arrest and transport, the tenor of the demonstrations shifted from outrage to victory, and Saturday's march of more than 1,000 protesters took on celebratory tone.