PC(USA), Mid-Kentucky Presbytery to hold Breonna Taylor vigil

Sunday evening vigil will be at Beulah Presbyterian Church in Louisville, shown on Facebook Live

by Rich Copley | Presbyterian News Service

During an August march and rally in downtown Louisville, participants observed eight minutes and 46 second of silence. (Photo by Rich Copley)

LOUISVILLE – The Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) and the Presbytery of Mid-Kentucky will host Remembering Breonna Taylor: Vigil for Justice at 5 p.m. Eastern time on Sunday at Beulah Presbyterian Church, 6704 Bardstown Road in Louisville.

The vigil comes in the aftermath of a grand jury decision Wednesday regarding Taylor’s death.

“May God comfort those who mourn and suffer at the hands of racism and discrimination around the world,” said the Rev. Dr. Diane Moffett, president and executive director of the Presbyterian Mission Agency. “And we must bear witness to the injustice. We can do this by praying, by raising our voices and by voting.”

“The City of Louisville is broken, hurting, angry and afraid. Mid-Kentucky Presbytery and the Presbyterian Center understand that it is exactly at times like these that the Church hears the prophet Isaiah’s call to be repairers of the breach and restorers of the streets to live in,” said Rev. John Odom, general presbyter of Mid-Kentucky Presbytery. “This work is at the heart of the prayer vigil sponsored jointly between Mid-Kentucky Presbytery and the Presbyterian Center. Together as a community in prayer, we call on and witness to the One from whom our help comes, and we recommit ourselves God’s work of justice, truth and reconciliation.”

Taylor was killed on March 13 by Louisville Police serving a warrant at her apartment. Her death, and the death of several other people who are Black in police-related incidents, led to an uprising against police violence and systemic racism this summer.

The Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.)’s national offices are in Louisville. In August, the church hosted a Week of Action to combat systemic racism, culminating in a rally at the Presbyterian Center and march to the downtown Louisville park that has served as a memorial to Taylor.

On Wednesday, a Louisville grand jury returned an indictment against one of the three officers involved in the incident for Wanton Endangerment, but there were no charges directly related to Taylor’s killing.

On Wednesday, PC(USA) and Mid-Kentucky Presbytery leaders released a statement calling the ruling “a travesty.”

Sunday’s “Remembering Breonna Taylor: Vigil for Justice” will begin at 5 p.m. at Beulah Presbyterian Church in Louisville. It will be livestreamed via Facebook. (Photo by Rich Copley)

“Our hearts break today upon the news that a grand jury will not seek stronger charges against the police officers involved in the shooting death of Breonna Taylor,” the statement said. “The senseless death of this young woman has enraged this community and prompted thousands, including many Presbyterians, to take to the streets to call for justice in the last several months. And yet, today’s news of only three charges of Wanton Endangerment only makes us feel that our cries have fallen on deaf ears.”

“Following up on our Presbyterian Week of Action, staff at the Presbyterian Center who make up what we call our “Bearing Witness Strategy Team,” have sought to find ways to continue our shared work for racial justice,” said Rev. Carl Horton, mission coordinator for Presbyterian Mission Agency. “As those of us in Louisville awaited a decision in the Breonna Taylor case, we felt a need to pray with and for the city of Louisville in particular. The Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), along with Mid-Kentucky Presbytery, is a significant member of and presence in this community, so we wanted to find a way to express the pain we are experiencing, demonstrate our commitment to racial justice and turn to the God of mercy with all of our grief and lament. It is a wonderful thing to see our denomination’s staff and our local presbytery working together on this vigil.”

The vigil will be outdoors for both in-person and drive-in attendance. People who get out of their cars will be asked to wear masks and maintain social distancing. Attendees are asked to bring their own candle or lighted device and a chair if they want or need to sit for the half-hour vigil. In the event of rain, which is not predicted, the vigil will be all drive-in; Beulah is equipped to broadcast on an FM signal.

The vigil will be shown live on the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) Facebook Page.

Ministers with the national office and Mid-Kentucky Presbytery will collaborate on the liturgy for the vigil, and Moffett is expected to participate.

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