Ardmore community gathers at Central Park to pray for racial unity, healing

Sierra Rains
A group of around 60 people gathered at Ardmore’s Central Park Tuesday evening to pray for racial unity. The prayer lasted for nine minutes — the length of time that George Floyd was held to the ground before his death in Minnesota last week.

Though filled with a group of around 60 people, Ardmore’s Central Park was silent Tuesday evening. The only sounds that remained were the hum of cars passing by and the squeak of children swinging on the playground in the distance.

Some dropped to their knees and others embraced each other as the group bowed their heads to pray for nine minutes — the length of time that George Floyd was held to the ground before his death in Minnesota last week.

“We’ve just got a lot of people hurting in our country. You look at the country across the board and people are divided and hurting and different communities are hurting,” said Dakotah Trevino, a local pastor at Provence Assembly of God.

Trevino organized the prayer, calling on several other area pastors to join him, following a peaceful protest in Ardmore Sunday afternoon that was sparked by Floyd’s death. The goal, he said, was to not only stand against injustice, but to pray for healing, racial unity and coming together “as a body of believers.”

“But we only get that through repentance,” Trevino said. “So we want the heart of everything to be repentance and that doesn’t have to be — you don’t have to get so offended by that. It’s the simple fact of ‘I need to change, I need to turn away from some things.’”

Trevino said he believes spirituality and a real, raw and authentic relationship with Jesus can lead some to the right path, explaining that injustice, mistreatment and hatred of any kind is deplorable in the sight of God.

“When you come to know who Jesus is — who he really was, not like a religious spirit, but who he was and he came for the broken, the hurting, the oppressed, he came for all people,” Trevino said. “So when you get to really see that and turn our hearts towards that, that’s what really will start to make a difference.”

Tracy Curington, a pastor at Bible Baptist Church in Ardmore, joined Trevino and the group gathered at Central Park Tuesday, kneeling on one knee and bowing his head to pray.

“Praying for healing and unity, that’s why I’m here,” Curington said, citing another pastor as he referred to the state of the nation as a spiritual pandemic. “He talked about a global medical pandemic and a global cultural pandemic because of what took place in Minneapolis, but it’s all because of a spiritual pandemic.”

Curington said he was impressed by the number of people who gathered to pray Tuesday evening. “In the length of time that he put this thing together, that that many people showed up, it does speak volumes about those that are willing to share openly and publicly their faith,” he said.

“It just shows that this community believes in the community and believes also who we’re going to be praying to tonight. They believe that an awakening can happen from little old Ardmore,” Trevino said.

The crowd ranged from young to old, with even children bowing their heads to pray. Officers from the Ardmore Police Department and Carter County Sheriff’s Office also joined in the prayer.

“Everybody is getting closure. We all need to come together and to talk about what’s going on in the country right now. We need to come together and not be separated,” said Gerardo Carrillo, a local Ardmore resident taking part.

Carrillo said he believes the prayer and peaceful protest demonstrate how well the community can work together and hopes that some changes may be made in the justice system. For many, the recent gatherings and protests have come down to one thing.

“To come together as one as a community and stand up for what’s right,” said Ardmore native Savannah Tafolla.