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The Voice of the Black Community

Life and Religion

Charlotte churches hold prayer vigil for fatal van wreck victims
Congregations call for healing, remembrance
Published Monday, June 25, 2018 8:22 am
by Ken Koontz, Special to The Post

Four Charlotte AME Zion churches held a joint prayer vigil Sunday evening to pay tribute to 12 parishioners hurt or killed in a wreck last Sunday near Winston-Salem.

They were headed home to Charlotte after a church conference when their 15-passenger vehicle blew out a tire on Interstate 40. The vehicle flipped on its side in the highway median. One passenger was killed and 10 others were injured.

The van belonged to Cathey Memorial AME Zion Church in Charlotte. The passengers were members of Cathey Memorial, East Stonewall, Greater Gethsemane and Clinton Chapel. The lone fatality was 76-year-old Nola Miller Murphy, a member of East Stonewall, which hosted the prayer vigil. An estimated 100 faithful attended the hour-long service that featured prayers, songs and special spiritual assurance from AME Zion Bishop George Battle of Charlotte.

Battle told the worshipers that Cathey Memorial had nothing to do with the accident, emphasizing, “it was God’s work.”

In a Prayer of Thanksgiving, Rev. Nate Edwards, pastor of Cathey Memorial, thanked God “…for the lives of all persons involved in the van accident.” He noted, “…At the time of [Murphy’s] transition, you were with her.” He thanked God for the surviving passengers and van driver Rosalind Anthony.

The Prayer of Thanksgiving acknowledged the emergency response teams, medical and hospital staffs and the “outpouring of kindness and generosity from everyday citizens who stopped to help them make it through that difficult moment.”

Rev. Ralph Williamson of Clinton Chapel offered a Prayer of Forgiveness, which he described as the highest form of love. He noted that hearts were heavy, bitter, frustrated and deeply hurt.

The congregation joined ministers in a special altar call for prayer of healing and saving faith to close out the sanctuary service.  Kneeling and standing, the special prayer was delivered by Rev. David Williams of Greater Gethsemane.

His emotional appeal to God noted that “your compassion never fails and your mercies are new every morning.”

The highlight of the religious ceremony was release of 12 balloons. Eleven white balloons were released first to honor the survivors. And the service closed out with release of one pink balloon in Murphy’s memory a day after her funeral service at East Stonewall, her home church.


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