Troost Churches and Neighborhoods Mark Good Friday with a Vigil for Peace

Contact: Rev. Donna Simon donnasimon@hotmail.com Cell: 816-419-5575

As they did two years ago, two churches at the center of the Troost Corridor will file out of their services on Good Friday to line the street, staking a claim for peace on Troost. Members of St. James Catholic Church (3909 Harrison St., KCMO) and St. Mark Hope and Peace Lutheran Church (3800 Troost Ave., KCMO) will join with residents of the neighborhoods that border the central Troost Corridor to line Troost Avenue with light and love.

The first peace vigil, held on Good Friday (April 22), 2011, was a response to the shootings of three young men at the KCATA Metro Center at 39th and Troost the previous week. “That first vigil was an opportunity to say ‘no’ to the violence we had witnessed right outside our churches, to claim our neighborhood as a place of peace,” says Donna Simon, pastor of St. Mark Hope and Peace. Three young men were shot on April 13, 2011. Two of the young men managed to get through the security at the Metro Day Care and were attended to by day care workers. “For too long, this kind of violence has been expected along the Troost Corridor,” says Simon. “We say ‘no.’ This is a time of renewal along the Corridor. Our neighborhoods, our churches, our community organizations are united in declaring that it is a new day on Troost. This is a great place to live and a great place to work. I happen to do both here, and I wouldn’t be anywhere else.”

This year’s peace vigil is a celebration of the great hope that neighbors along the Troost Corridor feel for their home. There has been burgeoning interest in Troost from across the KC Metro area over the past few years; no fewer than three separate organizations are involved in planning for growth along the corridor.

Deacon Ross Beaudoin, Pastoral Administrator at St. James, believes that the vigil has a universal appeal. “I believe it is important to hold a vigil of witness for non-violence on the Troost Corridor because so many of our lives are touched by gun violence, and also by personal violence of many kinds, including domestic violence and economic violence,” says Beaudoin. “It is not just the Troost Corridor that suffers from violence, but this particular action in witness for non-violence is symbolic of the need for all residents to examine their lives, live non-violently and to stand up against violence with personal and prayerful resolve.”

Holding a peace vigil after Good Friday services makes perfect sense to Simon. “The space between Good Friday and Easter is a sacred time for Christians. We have confronted brutal violence and death, and we cast ourselves into the certain hope of resurrection. I believe that we find ourselves in a similar ‘threshold time’ on Troost these days. There has been violence and death here. But now we know life. Our lighted candles are symbols of that life--a promise we are seeing fulfilled all along Troost.”

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