Bishop David A. Hall Sr. of Temple Church of God in Christ was backed by pastors and bishops in the COGIC Tennessee Headquarters Jurisdiction as he called for “fasting and prayer” to combat the rash of mass shootings across the nation.
“Political language has failed,” said Hall, presiding prelate of the jurisdiction, during a Monday evening press conference. “Legislation has not been effective, and God needs to be a part of the solution. We can no longer use a sword but spiritual power.”
Hall was addressing the mass shootings that took place over the past several days at a Walmart in Southaven, Mississippi; a Walmart in El Paso, Texas and on the streets of downtown Dayton, Ohio.
“Some say the answer is more comprehensive background checks, gun safety legislation, bans on high velocity assault weapons, or solving the growing alienation of the white race that produces white nationalism and hatred for people of color,” said Hall. “Lastly, even the language of this current president should be altered. The answer is clearly complex and a matter of conscience.”
Several pastors and community leaders sat on a panel, each offering like-minded sentiment.
Charles Harrison Mason Patterson, pastor of Pentecostal Church of God, agreed that the solution to the rise of more mass shootings is to be found “in the Word of God.”
“As a Christian, no matter what our political affiliation is, we are directed to pray for those who have the rule over us,” said Patterson. “We must pray for the president and pray for members of Congress. This nation is still in the hand of God.”
Pastor John Ragland of Christian Fellowship cited relevance in this year being the 400th anniversary that Africans were brought to America as slaves.
“It’s been 400 years that oppression has taken place,” he said. “The answer is in us learning to deny ourselves … God said ‘Don’t deny me, deny yourself.’ We are not practicing the 4th ministry, and that is the ministry of exorcism. We must cast out these devils out of people, but first, we have to deal with ourselves.”
Hall also said conservatives who have the president’s ear should say something to him about his rhetoric.
“In some circles, the word ‘conservative’ is used as a code name for racist, but that is not true conservatism,” he said. “Any Christian who uses the ‘conservatism’ label to hide their racism is wrong.”
Hall told the gathering that none of them could be “absolute pacifists” against a backdrop of mass shootings. He said state governments need to limit gun magazine sizes in society, and also make white supremacy a terrorist group.
“These killings are an abhorrent and intrinsic evil that must not be politicized, trivialized, nor must religious people be encouraged to seek symbiotic settlement with evil,” Hall said.
Captain Anthony Buckner, Shelby County Sheriff’s communications officer, thanked Hall for his leadership on this issue.
“When a call like this comes in on 911, we are already outgunned, and our hearts skip a beat when we go out,” said Buckner. “Every day, we are walking in the shadow of death. But we trust God. I appreciate the open (dialogue) we are having this evening and the attempt to address this matter before the next shooting occurs, though we pray there won’t be a next time.”
Hall said the jurisdictional pastors and ministers will continue to meet as they devise a plan for corporate fasting, prayer and other strategies derived from a spiritual basis.
“Hopefully, others will join us. It is on the word of God we stand. There is no humanistic program that can solve this issue.”