Posted on March 10, 2010
Operation Richmond Aims to Proclaim
By Cassandra Juniel,
RICHMOND — Thousands of city residents joined
together at the Civic Center here Saturday to “Proclaim God’s
Peace Over Our City,” including people of all ages, and different
cultures and walks of life.
Key events for the day included 210 prayer circles at various
intersections throughout the city, a march from Civic Center
to the New Gethsemane Church of God in Christ and a rally.
“Although we had hoped that the number of participants would
be larger, we feel the day was a huge success,” volunteer Morris
LeGrande said. “We did achieve what we wanted to achieve, which
was the citizens and the faith-based community coming together
Operation Richmond, a conglomerate of more than 80 churches
around the Bay Area, organized the events and launched a massive
outreach program combating crime and taking action. The efforts
were started in reaction to the shooting of two youths inside
Richmond’s New Gethsemane church during service time.
Three males in black hooded sweatshirts entered the church
on Feb. 14, walked outside and immediately came back in and
shot two brothers in front of approximately 100 parishioners,
Richmond police officials said.
The victims survived their gunshot wounds and there have been
no arrests in the case.
Mike Bigbee, a member of the church, was inside of the church
at the time of the shooting.
“I’m involved in a ministry that gives away brown bags of
food every Wednesday. I was putting away food and all of a
sudden when I came out, I saw two guys walking in and then
leaving out of the church,” Bigbee said. “Then, one came back
and started shooting.”
After police officials concluded their investigation that
afternoon, the church continued with their service.
The occurrence of the shooting prompted action, which began
the outreach efforts as directed by the visionary of the project,
Bishop J.W. Macklin, who is the presiding bishop over the Church
of God In Christ, Inc. and pastor of Glad Tidings Church in
“It was an unfortunate incident that occurred at New Gethsemane.
I am the bishop within this denomination responsible for this
church. I saw the church, as well as the city ready to move
to action against such crimes,” Macklin said.
“Everything was in place. We are continuing to carry out the
vision,” he said.
The outreach efforts began on Feb. 28 with more than 1,000
individuals hanging “Never Again” banners on houses of worship
and reaching out by visiting 10,000 homes where literature
and Bibles were distributed and prayer was offered, Macklin
Various vendors were on hand Saturday, in support of the efforts,
advertising and distributing material that related to helping
young adults physically, mentally and spiritually.
One such vendor represented the Child Care Council.
“We have to start with the kids when they are young so that
they will have a good head on them. This all affects their
behavior when they grow up,” referral counselor Amy Cheng said.
Representatives were also on hand from Contra Costa College,
highlighting education as a necessary factor for the youth.
“The more education to kids, the less crime and the more employment.
I think they go hand-in-hand,” Scholarship and Outreach Coordinator
Jimmy Cox said.
Highlights of the day included the marching of more than 2,500
individuals from Civic Center to New Gethsemane Church, located
at 21st and Roosevelt Street.
Following the police officials who cleared the roads for the
marchers were Macklin, the pastor of the church, clergymen
“I am happy about what God is doing. People are so excited
about what is going on,” New Gethsemane Pastor Archie Levias
Right before the march, city officials and Macklin addressed
attendees and provided direction for the marchers.
“We’re on a journey to peace,” Richmond Mayor Gayle McLaughlin
said. “We are working to reduce violence in many ways, but
it is important for many to spread the message of peace.” [emphasis
Once everyone arrived at the church, a “human-hand chain”
was formed by everyone holding hands, standing outward, as
though to exemplify “we won’t leave you out.”
The chain encircled the church, as well as three blocks.
Prayer was spoken for Richmond neighborhoods, residents and
general peace in the city.
“It’s all peaceful, and this march was incredibly positive.
This is what it is going to take to bring peace back to Richmond,”
Chief of Police Chris Magnus said. “People of all walks of
life are all here, and I’m impressed with what I see.”
One marcher made an extraordinary effort to participate.
“I’m proud to march today. I was shot at the age of 16 years
near my spine, was once in a wheelchair and am now on these
partial crutches,” supporter Darron Knight said. “God has turned
my life around from being with the gang bangers.”
The day concluded with the rally at Civic Center with singers,
testimonies and a brief message from Rev. Kevin Hall of St.
John Baptist Church of Richmond.
“Christ is the answer,” Hall said. “There is a great need
for parents to teach children to respect God, respect the church,
respect their elders and authority and lastly, themselves.”
Contact Cassandra Juniel at email@example.com