A prayer vigil for peace led by religious and civic figures in downtown Atlanta on Sunday evening aimed to “mourn into unity.”

“We are in a vulnerable place,” the Rev. Ed Bacon, interim rector at Atlanta’s St. Luke’s Episcopal Church, told attendees at the event held outside the National Center for Civil and Human Rights.

Bacon cited the “continued testing” of the Nov. 3 presidential election, the upcoming electoral vote count to be certified by Congress, Tuesday’s Senate runoffs in Georgia, deaths in police custody, and deaths and layoffs from the pandemic.

“We bring all of these concerns together in prayer,” he said.

The Rev. Ed Bacon, interim rector of St. Luke’s Episcopal Church, speaks during an Atlanta peace vigil on Sunday, January 3, 2021, outside the National Center for Civil and Human Rights in Atlanta. Faith and community leaders lead the candlelight pre-election interfaith vigil as a way to mitigate violence and promote unity ahead of the U.S. Senate run-off election. CHRISTINA MATACOTTA FOR THE ATLANTA JOURNAL-CONSTITUTION
The Rev. Ed Bacon, interim rector of St. Luke’s Episcopal Church, speaks during an Atlanta peace vigil on Sunday, January 3, 2021, outside the National Center for Civil and Human Rights in Atlanta. Faith and community leaders lead the candlelight pre-election interfaith vigil as a way to mitigate violence and promote unity ahead of the U.S. Senate run-off election. CHRISTINA MATACOTTA FOR THE ATLANTA JOURNAL-CONSTITUTION

Credit: Christina Matacotta

Credit: Christina Matacotta

Online viewers watched a livestream of the event while only two or three dozen attended in person, a different picture from Saturday’s Georgia Prayer March held outside the Capitol in Atlanta. That event drew an often maskless crowd of hundreds to the city, and some speakers spoke favorably of the Republican Senate candidates in the runoffs.

Katherine Marshall, 16, said she participated in Sunday’s candlelight vigil after spending several weeks in an interfaith group called Mourning into Unity. The group started in November when election tensions seemed overwrought, and it came to take in other major stresses of the day.

Bilal Mahmud, a founder of the Atlanta mosque the Al-Farooq Masjid, asked attendees to pray “for the healing in our fractured, polarized country and world.

“We pray for the compassionate and humble hearts, the strength to forgive,” he said.

Leaders from other faiths and organizations also spoke, including Grady Healthcare CEO John Haupert; Bill Clothier, from Veterans for Responsible Leadership; and former Atlanta Mayor Shirley Franklin.

“Let us pray for the candidates, John Ossoff and David Perdue; Kelly Loeffler and Raphael Warnock,” Franklin said. “Let us pray that people will do whatever it takes to vote and that that their efforts will not be hindered and that chaos will not ensue.”

Franklin also asked attendees to “hold in love all our fellow and sister citizens who do not trust the election. Who do not trust the people who oversee it and interpret it.”

AJC freelance photographer Christina Matacotta contributed to this story.

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