Photos: Prayer gathering hosted by Collin County Churches in McKinney

Many of those present at the gathering of Collin County Churches wore shirts and held signs that said "praying for justice and against racism." More shirts with the same message were handed out to the crowd. (Liesbeth Powers/Community Impact Newspaper)
Many of those present at the gathering of Collin County Churches wore shirts and held signs that said "praying for justice and against racism." More shirts with the same message were handed out to the crowd. (Liesbeth Powers/Community Impact Newspaper)

Many of those present at the gathering of Collin County Churches wore shirts and held signs that said "praying for justice and against racism." More shirts with the same message were handed out to the crowd. (Liesbeth Powers/Community Impact Newspaper)

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Standing among a crowd upward of a thousand, Chiamaka Duru (left), nodded in affirmation as pastors from more than 10 churches around Collin County prayed and spoke on racism and injustice. (Liesbeth Powers/Community Impact Newspaper)
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Those in the crowd lifted their hands during prayer at the June 4 prayer rally. (Liesbeth Powers/Community Impact Newspaper)
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Dr. Conway Edwards, lead pastor of One Community Church, welcomed the crowd, saying, "Racism is not a skin issue. It is a sin issue." (Liesbeth Powers/Community Impact Newspaper)
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Those in the crowd lifted their hands during prayer at the June 4 prayer rally. (Liesbeth Powers/Community Impact Newspaper)
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Leadership from churches involved in creating the Collin County Churches group stood near the top of the courthouse stairs. (Liesbeth Powers/Community Impact Newspaper)
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Dr. Louis Rosenthal, pastor at The McKinney First Baptist Church, prays over the crowd at the Collin County Courthouse. (Liesbeth Powers/Community Impact Newspaper)
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Jim Johnson, senior pastor at Preston Trails Community Church, gives a second welcoming prayer to church members June 4. (Liesbeth Powers/Community Impact Newspaper)
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Many of those present wore masks and stood a few feet from one another with the exception of family members. (Liesbeth Powers/Community Impact Newspaper)
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Jennifer Irozuru leaned against the railing of the courthouse stairs as she listened to prayers from Collin County pastors. (Liesbeth Powers/Community Impact Newspaper)
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Children were encouraged to raise their voices at the gathering. A young boy jumped up with his sign in response. (Liesbeth Powers/Community Impact Newspaper)
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Dawn Stephens, member of One Community Church, took down notes from the multiple short sermons given on racism and injustice. (Liesbeth Powers/Community Impact Newspaper)
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Derrick Golden, senior pastor at Amazing Church in McKinney, asked those present to help combat racism and continue discussions of justice in Collin County by taking part in the Unity Table. (Liesbeth Powers/Community Impact Newspaper)
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Those in the crowd lifted their hands during prayer at the June 4 prayer rally. (Liesbeth Powers/Community Impact Newspaper)
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Some knelt to the ground in prayer as the evening drew to a close. (Liesbeth Powers/Community Impact Newspaper)
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Sheryl Brady, pastor of The Potter’s House of North Dallas, helped close the evening with a prayer. (Liesbeth Powers/Community Impact Newspaper)
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McKinney Mayor George Fuller took the stage to proclaim that every fifth weekend in his city would officially be a Unity Table day. (Liesbeth Powers/Community Impact Newspaper)
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Families were asked to pray together over what was said by pastors before the gathering ended. (Liesbeth Powers/Community Impact Newspaper)
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Families were asked to pray together over what was said by pastors June 4. (Liesbeth Powers/Community Impact Newspaper)
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The parking lot in front of the Collin County Courthouse was filled along with a large portion of the two-way strip of road between the parking areas during the gathering. (Liesbeth Powers/Community Impact Newspaper)
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A line of cars waited along Bloomdale Road and N. Central Expressway as the event began at 7 p.m. June 4. (Liesbeth Powers/Community Impact Newspaper)
Standing among a crowd numbering at least a thousand, Chiamaka Duru said she felt proud of her church community.

Duru attended a June 4 gathering of churches to represent people like her, she said. Holding a sign that read "Black Lives Matter," Duru nodded in affirmation as pastors and staff from about 10 churches prayed and spoke about racism and injustice from the steps of the Collin County Courthouse.

"I decided to come out here to... bring justice to a system that is not for us," Duru said. "I think prayer brings people together, and I'm glad that people were able to join in on a conversation about racism, about the injustices, and then be able to pray our way out of all the things we've experienced and gone through in history."

Many of those present wore shirts and held signs that said "praying for justice and against racism." More shirts with the same message were handed out to the crowd.

"What we're trying to do is simply trying to have an African American pastor and an Anglo pastor come together and pray," Dr. Conway Edwards, lead pastor of One Community Church, said as part of the welcome. "Racism is not a skin issue. It is a sin issue."


Many of those who spoke are part of a group called Collin County Churches. As part of its call to action, the group asks church members to share a meal with someone who doesn't look like them every fifth weekend. This effort to combat racism and to continue discussions of justice in Collin County will be known as the Unity Table, announced Derrick Golden, senior pastor at Amazing Church in McKinney.

McKinney Mayor George Fuller proclaimed that every fifth weekend in his city would officially be a Unity Table day.

"As I look out... the most powerful thing I see is white, black, brown citizens all standing together," Fuller said. "As I hear about the Unity Table, my first thought is, 'Why didn't I think of that?' But what I can do is see and seize an incredible idea."

The churches of Collin County are also working to create a task force to hold local officials accountable, Golden said.

"You don't have to be a physician; you don't have to be a lawyer; you don't have to be a judge; you don't have to be a police officer," Golden said. "But the ministry of Jesus Christ needs us now more than ever before."

Attendees honored leadership from the churches involved in creating the Collin County Churches group as well as law enforcement and city leaders, all of whom sat or stood near the top of the courthouse stairs.

Roughly 150 churches were represented at the gathering, according to event host One Community Church.

Dave and Lisa Stephenson walked away from the event with a Unity Dinner already scheduled. The two had been members of Chase Oaks Church, a large predominately white church in Plano, for nearly six years. Four years ago they decided to move to One Community Church, one of the largest predominately black churches in the area, Dave Stephenson said.

"We felt like we needed to be more diverse in our lives, so we got uncomfortable and went to a predominately African American church," he said.

The impact of the evening was fantastic, one that Lisa Stephenson said she hopes will not wear off soon.

For Dave Stephenson, protesting and prayer make a lasting impact.


"I think they go hand in hand," he said. "You're not going to make a difference in the world if you're not bold enough to stand up and protest, and you're not going to make a difference in the world if you don't pray."
By Liesbeth Powers
Liesbeth graduated from Baylor University with a degree in new media journalism in December 2018. She gained her newspaper experience as a staff writer and multimedia editor at her campus paper, The Baylor Lariat. Liesbeth joined the Community Impact team in August 2019, where she reports on all things Plano, including education and transportation.


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