Congregations honor law enforcement during Faith and Blue Weekend


By Kara Witherow, Editor

Across the South Georgia Conference, congregations recognized and thanked law enforcement officers for their service, prayed alongside police officers, and showed their support for those who protect and serve.

During the inaugural 2020 National Faith & Blue Weekend, held Sept. 10-11, nearly 1,000 events aimed at helping promote dialogue between places of worship, community organizations, and law enforcement were held across the country.

Here in South Georgia, several United Methodist congregations partnered with local sheriff’s departments or police departments to show unity and foster understanding.

In Hahira, more than a dozen churches partnered for the Faith and Blue Peace Walk and Food Drive, a walk through downtown Hahira’s Main Street that culminated in a prayer, rally, and community lunch.

“We wanted this to be a positive witness of our church and community in all of the darkness that’s going on,” said Hahira United Methodist Church pastor Rev. Mike Davis, who participated in the event.

Lt. Shannon Kingston of the Hahira Police Department helped plan and organize the Hahira Faith and Blue Peace Walk and Food Drive. The law enforcement community hopes that it and other similar events will show the community’s unity.

“Events like this show that we can work together through anything, that we’re going to work together through our differences,” she said. “We’re not going to be divided.”

A few hours north in Statesboro, Statesboro First United Methodist Church was one of about a dozen local churches that participated in the online community-wide Faith and Blue worship service organized by the Bulloch Co. Sheriff’s Office.

Rev. Scott Hagan, joined by Cpl. Bob DiNello of the Bulloch Co. Sheriff’s Office, shared passages from Isaiah and John and thanked those who serve.

“On behalf of the church, we say thank you,” Rev. Hagan said. “Thank you for answering the call; thank you for bringing peace to places that need it. Thank you for going out and making things right and seeking those who do wrong. And thank you for being willing to give up your life for our community.”

Cpl. DiNello, who serves in the motor unit of the Bulloch Co. Sheriff’s Office, thanked the congregation and community for their support and for participating in the Faith and Blue worship service.

“It means a lot to us in law enforcement and as first responders across this nation to have the unity of churches in our community helping us get through these trying times. Thank you again.”

And just down the road in Savannah, Grace United Methodist Church recognized officers during their Sunday, Oct. 11 service. Nearly 20 officers attended, and to show their appreciation, the congregation presented them with a basket full of thank you cards and gift cards.

It’s important for the Church to recognize law enforcement officers for their sacrifices and to let them know of their significance to the community, said Grace UMC pastor Rev. Cathy Green.

“We recognize the challenging circumstances they work under each and every day, and they sacrifice so much for our community,” she said. “We wanted them to know that we care and that we’re here for them and we will do what we can. They’re in one of those positions where all they hear is negative, and we wanted them to know that we support them and we know they’re doing the best they can in very difficult circumstances.”

Initiatives like the Faith and Blue Weekend are important because they help build relationships and foster communication among people, Rev. Davis said.

“Understanding one another always has to begin with relationships,” he said. “You can’t have a relationship without fellowship, without being with one another. For there to be understanding between the community and her police department, there has to be some way to connect. This was a great opportunity to be in relationship with one another.”

At the heart of the Faith and Blue initiative is the reinforcement of connections between law enforcement professionals and the communities they serve. While the 2020 weekend has concluded, there will opportunities for involvement throughout 2021.