COLUMBIA - Worshipers joined together at the Second Missionary Baptist Church on Friday and Saturday for a 24-hour prayer vigil, followed by a worship service and dinner, for those affected by the closure of the Warren Funeral Chapel.
The Warren Funeral Chapel closed in July after a lawsuit was filed against it, which charged that the funeral chapel was improperly storing bodies, among other health code violations.
The 12 pastors invited to the vigil, at 401 E Broadway, each had two hours to lead the congregation. There was no structured preaching; everyone was invited to pray or sing as he or she pleased. About 80 people attended the vigil Friday night, with fewer participants on Saturday.
The Rev. Clyde L. Ruffin of Second Missionary Baptist Church began the vigil. He led the congregation in a free-form mixture of song, prayers, reverent silence and readings from the Bible. Ruffin's prayers addressed the need to unify the community and communicated his belief that God will restore the goodness of the community. He told the congregation to pray for local, statewide and national leaders.
"Even though our community seems to be falling part, we know it is in (God's) hands," Ruffin said in prayer. "In order for the community to become unified, the churches have to become unified, and the leaders of churches have to be unified."
At one point in the vigil, people began to pray aloud; Renetta Brock's voice rose above the rest. She asked God to let Christians be an example to the world.
"My goal here is to pray and to uplift and to take back our community," Brock said.
Brock said that she was not personally affected by the events surrounding the closure of Warren Funeral Chapel but that she does have the Warrens in her prayers.
"Whatever God wants to happen will happen, and there is no need to make judgment calls here," she said.