Turning Eyes To The Skies: Mayor Says Come One, Come All And Pray (VIDEO)

By Jeff Neumeyer

March 19, 2013 Updated Mar 19, 2013 at 5:57 PM EDT

FORT WAYNE, Ind. (www.incnow.tv) --- Mayor Tom Henry is banking on a different tactic to help crack down on an uptick in violent crime in the city-- prayer.

On Tuesday, the same day a man was felled by as many as 10 gunshots in broad daylight at the corner of Rudisill Boulevard and Indiana Avenue, the mayor announced a special prayer event that he believes is a component to combating shootings and other forms of violence.

The event is primarily billed as a way to better unite the community, and to facilitate more appreciation of diversity.

But Henry hopes it will lead as well to neighborhoods that are safer.

No matter the religious tradition, prayer is accepted as a source of healing for pain, suffering and moral failure.

" We have a number of challenges in the United States right now, certainly, what's going on in Washington is evident to all," Henry said Tuesday, as he revealed plans for a May 5th prayer celebration at the Scottish Rite Center on West Berry Street.

Mayor Henry doesn't need convincing that prayer can heal what ails a country, state, or city.

He and local faith leaders are organizing the prayer gathering that will welcome Christians, Buddhists, Hindus and Muslims, even people of no faith.

The mayor acknowledged a desire to use the prayer event to combat crime that has already claimed nine homicide victims in early 2013.

The unidentified shooting victim at Rudisill and Indiana Avenue was clinging to life at last report.

Does the mayor fear constituents will see the prayer event as his administration waving the white flag, in terms of fighting back.

" Obviously, we need to increase protection to our city, as far as public safety personnel, and we're attempting to do that. But another tool in our tool box is, obviously, that of prayer," he said.

The mayor says no city tax dollars will be spent on the prayer event.

The University of St. Francis, new owner of the Scottish Rite, is not charging for use of the facility.

Other participants are donating their time, and the cost of a small reception afterwards, Mayor Henry says he's paying for that out of his own pocket.

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