So that the righteous might not stretch out their hands to do wrong” Psalm 125:3

Dear First Church: 

We have set up an opportunity for the community to join us in a Black Lives Matter prayer walk. On Sunday evening, June 7th, a small group of our youth began the prayers on the labyrinth. They took simple rocks with the name of someone who has died in police custody and walked with that rock, companioning that person symbolically, through the labyrinth while listening to a set of prayers, reflections and music which is available on Sound Cloud. When they completed their prayer journey they placed the rock with the person’s name on it whom they journeyed with on the stone wall as a sign of their witness to their life and death. It’s simple, it allows for social distancing, it bears witness, it is something we can do collectively, although not together at the same time. 

Here is what you do: 

* find a stone (the size that fits comfortably in the palm of your hand) and write a name on it of someone you want to remember/OR take one of the stones from the left side when you arrive at the labyrinth that the youth have prepared

*scan the QR code and listen to the instructions and the play list on your phone or click here for link.

Things to bear in mind: 

  • If someone else is on the labyrinth when you are there, that’s okay, just be mindful to maintain physical distance from them. There is no way to prevent people from joining in — actually we want to encourage them. 
  • We anticipate this being up for a number of weeks this summer so don’t worry if you can’t make it right away. There will be plenty of time. We are encouraging sign ups for the first two days to get it off to a good start. 
  • If you can’t come to the labyrinth, you can do your own prayer walk where you are. You can download the playlist and listen to it while you walk anywhere.
  • We anticipate changing and updating the playlist in the weeks ahead, so plan to do it more than once! 

For those of you who want to dig deeper and hear from other voices, I recommend the following sermons from recent weeks: 

The Rev Dr Otis Moss III, Trinity United Church of Christ, The Cross and the Lynching Tree: A Requiem for Ahmaud Arbery

A Special Message from Rev. Dr. Otis Moss III, May 31, 2020

Mother’s Day, May 10, 2020 The Rev. Dr Jacqui Lewis and Dr Alexis Pauline Gumbs in dialogue “Black Feminist Talk On Mothering the Globe.”

Resources compiled by our JPW Library will be updated regularly.

We remember these souls and so many others, and pray they rest in peace/rest in power: 

Oscar Grant

Travon Martin

Rekia Boyd

Michael Brown

Laquan McDonald 

Tamir Rice

Eric Garner

Sandra Bland

Bettie Jones

Quintonio LeGrier

Walter Scott

Eric Harris

Tony Robinson 

Rumain Brisbon

Freddie Gray

Rafael Cruz, Jr

Kajuan Raye

Paul O’Neal

Alton Sterling

Philando Castile

Terence Crutcher

Deravis “Caine” Rogers

Stephon Clark

Juan Flores

Chad Robertson 

Marco Gomez

Eddie Lee Patterson 

Gus Tousis

Nathaniel Edwards

Harith Augustus

Botham Jean 

Murrietta Golding

Antwon Rose II

O’Shae Terry 

Devon Bailey

Atatiana Jefferson

Kenneth French

Michael Dean

William Green 

Burce Carter 

Genevive Dawes

Ahmaud Arbery 

George Floyd

I’m grateful for your prayers and partnership during this season of pandemic and protest, 


The Reverend Erica Wimber Avena
Interim Senior Pastor
First Church, West Hartford