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  • Rev. Barbara Ballenger

This is the Fast I Want: Say their names-3.30.23

As part of her Lenten observance this season, Rev. Barb has set aside Thursdays from noon to 1 p.m. to fast for an end to gun violence, pray for those who have died or been injured in our community, and write a brief reflection on the issue. You are invited to join your prayer to hers each Thursday at noon by lifting your own prayer for an end to gun violence in our community and nation. An updated list of all those who have died or been injured by gun violence in Philadelphia can be found here.

Join me in praying for the victims of gun violence in Philadelphia where this week nine died and 37 were injured between March 21 and March 29. [1]

O God our Vindicator, come speedily to our help. Receive the souls of

the 24-year-old man on S Redfield St.;

the 15-year-old-boy on 16th St.;

the 24 year-old man on W York St.;

the 37-year-old man on W York St.;

the 24-year-old man on N 19th St.;

the 22- year-old man on N 19th St.;

the 22-year-old woman on Harlan St,;

the 29- year-old man on Chestnut St,;

the 32- year-old man on E Indiana Ave.

I pray too for the three children and three adults who were gunned down at Covenant School in Tennessee:

Evelyn Dieckhaus, Hallie Scruggs and William Kinney, all age 9, and school employees Cynthia Peak, 61, Katherine Koonce, 60, and Michael Hill, 61.

Receive your children into the arms of your mercy, and deliver their assailants to justice, that your holy Law may be served, and your peace renewed; through Jesus our Savior. Amen.

For survivors of violence:

Holy one, you do not distance yourself from the pain of your people, but in Jesus bear that pain with us and bless all who suffer at others’ hands. Hallow our flesh and all creation; with your cleansing love bring healing and strength to:

The 30-Year-old woman on S Broad St.;

the 37-year-old man on S Broad St;

the 18-year-old man on W Loudon St;

the 25-year-old man on Dennie St;

the 43-year-old man on Welsh Rd;

the 32-year-old man on Welsh Rd;

the 35-year-old man on Valley St;

the 63-year-old man on N 20th St;

the 35-year-old man on N 20th St;

the 45-year-old man on B St;

the 33-year-old man on E Allegheny Ave;

the 33-year-old man on Ellsworth St;

the 29-year-old man on N 9th St;

the 24-year-old man on C St;

the 22-year-old man on Dearborn St;

the 41-year-old man on W Wishart St;

the 44-year-old man on E Godfrey Ave;

the 22-year-old man on Pulaski Ave;

the 32-year-old man on D St;

the 20-year-old man on N 19th St;

the 32-year-old man on N 19th St;

the 12-year-old boy on N Hollywood St;

the 20-year-old woman on N Front St;

the 48-year-old man on Castor Ave;

the 20-year-old man on Race St;

the 27-year-old man on W Fisher Ave;

the 28-year-old man on Snyder Ave;

the 44-year-old man on W Somerset St;

the 16-year-old boy on Locust St;

the 32-year-old woman on Farson St;

the 44-year-old man on E Ann St;

the 21-year-old man on W Girard Ave;

the 24-year-old man on Market St;

the 21-year-old man on Wolf St;

the 40-year-old man on N Yewdall St;

the 40-year-old man on Gibson Dr;

the 21-year-old man on Gibson Dr;

the 26-year-old woman on Diamond St.;


Last Sunday the Inquirer ran a special section of their opinion page called 519, listing by name the 519 people who were the victims of homicide last year. It was no easy task to find their names. The reporters Helen Ubiñas and Kasturi Pananjady combed through police reports and cross referenced them against the list of homicides provided by the Medical Examiner’s office. The names fill four newspaper pages. They are punctuated by names in bold, children under 18 years of age. More than 90 percent of these 519 deaths were caused by guns. The majority were young, black men in their 20s. The same holds true for the nameless ones that I pull from the weekly data released by the Controller’s office.

On these pages are also pictures of family members holding the photos of their loved ones who were killed. Ubiñas wrote: “I hope that seeing these names help us us grasp the scale of what that number looks like, and also recognize that whatever the figure might be, it only ever represents a fraction of the persistent grief and lingering trauma that flow through our city.”

This week and into Holy Week next I will try to make some time to pray these names, because names are hard to come by in the aggregate. However, each one of these entries is so much more to their families who are grieving deaths or tending wounds.

As we enter the Holy Week stories that lead to Jesus’ own killing, our God’s own slaughter, let us keep in mind those he most identified with in his incarnation, those whose pain he shared, those who cried out in pain “My God, May God, why have your forsaken me.”

[1] The prayers can be found in Ministry with the Sick, Church Publishing Inc, 2005. The data on those who died and were injured in Philadelphia are released weekly by the city Office of the Controller at Interactive: Mapping Philadelphia's Gun Violence Crisis - Office of the Controller.

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