JONESBORO, AR (KAIT) - The unity rally began with scripture from Philippians 2:1.
"Therefore, if there is any encouragement in Christ, if there is any consolation of love, if there is any fellowship of the Spirit, if any affection and compassion, make my joy complete by being of the same mind, maintaining the same love, united in spirit, intent on one purpose," Ashley Rogers said, as she recited the words into the mic of a Jonesboro patrol car.
Her words spread to the crowd standing near the playground equipment side of CWL Park around 6 Thursday night.
Neighbors walked from houses on Cherry Street to the park. Jonesboro police officers parked their patrol cars on the gravel lots and shook hands with people gathered to hear messages of encouragement.
Rogers and Heather Talley came together organizing the rally. Talley also worked to get messages out about the community event via Facebook.
"It's a critical time in our nation's history," the Rev. Ray Scales, another organizer, said. "We just need to pray. Pray for healing and change. We can't keep going on this path."
Scales, the founder of New Mount Zion Missionary Baptist Church, led the crowd in prayer.
The crowd with heads bowed listened intently. The only sound heard besides the prayer were the voices of children playing in the distance.
"More than anything, I'm encouraged," Talley said after the prayer rally. "I'm encouraged seeing so many people come together and pray for healing and unity gives me hope in the midst of such unsettling times."
The recent shooting of two African-American men in separate traffic stops, the ambush and shooting deaths of police officers in Dallas and the protest shutting down the I-40 bridge leading in and out of Memphis have caused many to question and worry about the nation's future.
Craighead County Sheriff Marty Boyd, Jonesboro Police Chief Rick Elliott, and Mayor Harold Perrin joined the crowd, along with several local and state lawmakers.
"I love a couple of things Pastor Jamar Andrews said tonight," Talley said. "He said, 'God created only one race and that is the human race; we have different ethnicities within that race, but we are all one race.'"
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