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New Haven prayer service calls for unity amongst gun violence

NEW HAVEN -- The message that rang through the pews at Varick Memorial Church was "prayer still works." Dozens of members from the community came out for the Hope for Healing Community Prayer Service to have their voices heard by community leaders.

“We want to send a positive message that we are in the business of building bridges and not walls," said Pastor Kelcy Steele. "It takes all of us working together in partnership to bring about a greater New Haven."

Speakers asked for a change in the community and an end to the gun violence in New Haven. They asked for everyone to come together to better aid the community rather than resort to conflict. These words were heard by acting Hamden police chief John Cappiello and Anthony Duff of the New Haven police department.

"The concerns are real that I’ve heard from the community," said Duff. "Not just today but also yesterday and since the event that we’re here to discuss today."

Both officers plan to take the messages they heard and bring it back to their colleagues to better protect the communities they serve.

"People are hurting rightfully so," said Cappiello. "I want to make sure that people know we are part of the community also.”

"In New Haven, we trust in the process," said Duff. "We also monitor the process and we are constantly looking for ways to improve upon the process.

Worshipers not only prayed for change and an end to gun violence in the state but they also asked for more trust in the community.

“The most active way is to be a positive influence in the community. To be a positive part of the community. To take an active role rather than a reactive role," said Duff.

Pastor Steele hoped prayer would be just the start of the discussion. He saw today as a step in the right direction.

"Just seeing the passion and the people's faces. We engaged in prayer. No hostility. No tension. Just pausing and praying. It was just powerful, powerful."

Hoping to forge a better bond between the police and the communities they serve.

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