MINNEAPOLIS — Students, teachers and churchgoers gathered every Tuesday afternoon for the last seven weeks, praying for the safety of people around North Community High School.
Nov. 16 was the final week of prayer, and members honored the conclusion by taking seven laps around the school’s property.
Bishop Richard D. Howell, with the Shiloh Temple of International Ministries, said the nearly three-and-a-half-mile journey proves the dedication the church has to its community.
“We are in a crisis,” Bishop Howell said. “There’s a lot of angst and we thank God for all the wonderful groups that have come together to try and bring peace in our communities.”
Shiloh Temple chose to pray with members of North Community High School after its principal called for help.
“Shiloh reached out immediately to me and said you know we’re right down the street from you and we want to faith walk and we can stand with you and your students,” said Mauri Friestleben, principal of North Community.
She told KARE 11 the church wanted to continue the walk for seven weeks in a row so that students know they can learn, interact and walk to and from school in a safe community.
“I need to see that we’re not alone, that the village really does cherish the children and that they’re willing to come out on a chilly, late fall day and walk around the school and say, 'This is our school; this is our territory; this is our community; this is our neighborhood, and we’re not afraid to be here,'” Friestleben said.
North Community has been the target of violence recently, announcing over Facebook that students were robbed and followed after school hours.
The situation led to the school asking parents to review safety information with students.
“Families should remain in discussions around safe measures with your students, ensure that the safest routes home are being followed and even consider inviting your high schooler to be on the phone with you, or another loved one, while in transit,” the Facebook post read, in part.
Friestleben said she will not back down from the school and hopes her community continues to help their students have a safe learning environment.
“We’re going to stand for these kids and we’re going to stand for these teachers,” Friestleben said.
Bishop Howell said he’s noticed a reduction in violence since starting the walks, but that students, teachers and staff need to stay vigilant.
“Our schools should be able to be safe at all times, our students should be able to go and have a decent education and make better lives for themselves,” Bishop Howell said. “We know the stories of what's been happening around our country, the schools have been under tremendous attack and we believe that this is not acceptable in our community.”
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