Praytest comes to Brookshire's The Hangar Unity Center

By R. Hans Miller | Times Senior Reporter
Posted 6/19/20

More than 60 Brookshire-area residents assembled at Brookshire’s The Hangar Unity Center Saturday evening for a “praytest” that included people of all races and Brookshire Police …

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Praytest comes to Brookshire's The Hangar Unity Center

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More than 60 Brookshire-area residents assembled at Brookshire’s The Hangar Unity Center Saturday evening for a “praytest” that included people of all races and Brookshire Police Department officers. The group prayed for healing and an end to institutionalized racism with the hopes that a prayer-based movement would heal rifts between police and African Americans.

“The goal here is to cover the black community in prayer, cover the police department in prayer, stand with the black community and unify people with different ethnicities,” said organizer Bobby “Tre9” Herring, an evangelical R&B artist and founder of Eyes on Me Incorporated, a nonprofit organization that ministers to youth in underserved communities.

Herring said he had started the praytest movement in Houston’s Fifth Ward where George Floyd had lived. Floyd is the man whose death at the hands of Minneapolis, Minn. police inspired a wave of protests and calls for justice across the nation. The protests include events in downtown Houston and a June 4 protest at Katy Park at the intersection of Morton Road and Katy Hockley Cut Off Road. After a video of the first praytest went viral, Herring said he started organizing more so that Christians had a healthy way to contribute to the conversation. Herring said he feels that Christians should not be a part of those protests because of the manner that some protesters behave by committing acts of violence and using expletives directed at law enforcement officers.

“That’s why we don’t show at protests. We can’t stand behind the ‘F the police’ but with a praytest we can stand in unity with our black brothers and sisters,” Herring said.

So far, the Eyes on Me team has supported or held praytests in cities throughout Texas and in Florida with more to come, Herring said. The group was also in Waco on June 16 and will be in Houston’s Fifth and Second Wards June 18 at 6:30 p.m. at Finnigan Park.

The Hangar Unity Center’s Director Ryan Orbin said he was glad the center was able to host the event which focused on prayer and had a diverse turnout.

“I have seen white evangelicals come out like I’ve never seen before in my lifetime,” Orbin said.

Herring said that, despite his background growing up in a multiracial environment, he realized that he sometimes still had prejudices that he needed to address and consciously overcome. He said those biases are within him despite his background growing up in a minority community, playing basketball with a mostly-black team, working in ministries in minority communities and celebrating black music and culture.

“There’s a lot of research and studying that I’m doing and (there’s still) some contamination showing that I’ve got biases and stereotypes in me that I don’t really recognize (without personal reflection),” Herring said in his opening remarks at the event.

In his introductory speech at the event, Herring emphasized that those in attendance should follow their faith rather than pundits or politicians to decide what is right to do.

“I don’t need to listen to political pundits that are pro-Trump. I don’t need to listen to political pundits that are anti-Trump. I need to leave it up to Jesus. I need to follow the holy spirit,” Herring said.

After short introductory speeches by Herring and Orbin, protesters who were gathered in a circle prayed over a variety of topics that focused on building up the relationships between the black and law enforcement communities. Some read verses from the Bible while others relayed anecdotes of the experiences they’ve had with people from other races. Prayers included a request that people remember that African Americans and police are made in God’s image under the Christian faith, that people will seek out education and turn away from racism, that racism would be ended in Brookshire and around the world and that churches would mobilize to help black communities.

After all of the prayers were said, the group gathered in a prayer circle around the Brookshire officers that were present and prayed for them, with one officer leading the prayer. The prayer circle was then followed by a march that was about a mile long and included prayers for an end to institutional racism and community unity.

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