Love and unity – those were the themes of a march Sunday afternoon from Cafe Mosiac in Benton Harbor to the Berrien County Courthouse. Organized after the shooting deaths of two court officers, the march also stemmed from recent violence nationwide with police shooting and killing two black men in Minnesota and Louisiana and the ambush that killed five Dallas police officers. Cafe Mosiac’s Andrew Collins, a former Benton Township police officer, says there’s too much negativity in the world, “lot of people who want to scream and holler about what the problems are.” He tells WSJM News “we felt it was necessary to bring some talk about the solution, and we believe that through Christ the only solution is love. We’re touting the L-O-V-E and we have an acronym with that. The L is learn about the community that you work in, or that you live in, or that you serve in. The O is have an open heart and open mind to those who may not look or sound or think like you. The V is to volunteer in those communities which you may not be a part of, and the E is to empower other people to do the same.”
At least 300 people took part in the march along with pastors and elders from at least five area churches. Pastor Rodney Gulley of New Covenant Community Baptist Church capped off the prayer vigil on the steps of the courthouse by calling for more action and more unity among everyone in the community. Gretta Volkenstein, who recenlty created the Facebook page Berrien County Strong – Community In Action, says that is the right approach.
“Keep doing events like this, like they said. Let’s have community barbeques, basketball game, churches from Benton Harbor and St. Joe coming together doing events, volunteering,” she tells WSJM News. “One thing we really want to do is get more blue ribbons up all over town to show that we are united, that we are taking action. Our community can use this tragedy to be an example to the world and to America. It has to happen at the community level; I’m convinced of that.”