By Stefanie Jackson – The Rev. Kelvin Jones, who has pastored First Baptist Church in Capeville for 30 years, will hold a prayer service and call to action this Thursday in response to the recent mass shooting in Virginia Beach. The service will be held in cooperation with the Eastern Shore Virginia & Maryland Baptist Association.
“I think it’s time we step up as Christian leaders,” Jones said. “We need to take the helm back and model what we want for our society.”
According to media reports, on the afternoon of Friday, May 31, a Virginia Beach city engineer opened fire at the Virginia Beach Municipal Center, leaving 12 people dead. That morning, he had turned in his two weeks notice, citing personal reasons for leaving after about 15 years in the position.
The shooter was fatally wounded after he opened fire on police, and officers returned fire. He was in possession of two legally purchased handguns.
Jones said laws intended to curb gun violence are well-intentioned, but they aren’t working.
“Legislation doesn’t change lives and legislation doesn’t change hearts, but if we as a community, county, and country put God first, he has the power to change both hearts and lives.”
“We have to decide as a country, ‘What do we do moving forward?’” Jones said. “I don’t know if I have the answer to that, but I know we need to keep Christ at the forefront.”
The service will focus on encouraging leaders and citizens to live out their Christian principles, inspired by the scripture of Chronicles 7:14, “If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from Heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land.”
“As long as I say I’m saved, I have a responsibility, and that responsibility is to model behavior that is Christlike,” Jones said.
“If I know the choices I make could change the behavior that would stop someone from going to purgatory, I need to act,” he continued. “We are our brother’s keeper. The Bible teaches this.”
Jones called the service “not just another prayer vigil.”
“We’re praying for leaders and for the hearts of people to change.”
All are welcome to attend, regardless of political party, race, or religion.
“This isn’t a call to African-Americans, European-Americans, or Mexican-Americans, this is a call to Christians.”
The prayer vigil will be held at First Baptist Church in Capeville, which Gov. Ralph Northam has called his home church, led by Jones, who has offered opening prayer at legislative sessions in Richmond on numerous occasions.
The service is scheduled for Thursday, June 6, 6:30 p.m.