DALLAS - Hundreds of people packed Thanks-Giving Square Park downtown on Friday for an interfaith service that featured prayer, music and comments from civic and clergy leaders.
Police Chief David Brown received a thunderous round of applause before speaking. Afterward, many stood in line to shake hands with officers on duty and soon, everyone was hugging.
This Facebook Live video we posted from the scene has logged more than 25 million views.
Clergy participating in the service included Park Cities Baptist Church Pastor Jeff Warren and Bryan Carter, senior pastor of Concord Church.
“Pastor Carter and I recently returned from Charleston,” said Warren, referring to a joint pilgrimage to Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church, where nine people died in a June 2015 mass shooting. “We’ve got a lot of work to do but we’re standing here and we’re ready.”
Warren, who is white, and Carter, who is black, swapped pulpits on Palm Sunday 2015 to support racial unity. Warren urged the crowd to embrace that ideal.
“Find someone of another color. Find someone who is not like you today,” Warren said. “Tell them they’re loved by God, loved by you. Build bridges across racial lines.”
Carter echoed his friend’s sentiments.
“We’re here today because we share a common pain,” he said. “Our hearts are heavy with grief. But we refuse to hate each other. We refuse to point fingers at one another. Together we gather together to commit to pray our way to healing and restoration. We also commit to work together. We believe it takes all of us to bring the healing we all so desperately need.”
After the service, which featured remarks from faith and civic leaders, musical tributes and prayers, many of those in attendance stood in line to offer their personal thanks to men and women in uniform. Soon, everyone started hugging.
“I felt like what I needed right now was togetherness,” said Katherine Van Dyke, who attended with a friend. “I hope this encourages everyone to choose love.”
Senior Cpls. Monica Cordova and Debra Webb were among the officers who started out directing traffic and wound up receiving hugs and handshakes.
“It’s overwhelming,” Cordova said. “We were overwhelmed with grief. Now we’re overwhelmed with gratitude.”