Fayette County

Lexington prayer service to overcome racial bias planned for Sunday

Local NAACP officials held a news conference in front of Lexington Catholic High School in May expressing concerns about alleged racial harassment and discrimination. In response to those allegations, Lexington Catholic’s board authorized the formation of a School Life and Culture Committee that will oversee the diversity, ethics and cultural competency initiatives at the high school.
Local NAACP officials held a news conference in front of Lexington Catholic High School in May expressing concerns about alleged racial harassment and discrimination. In response to those allegations, Lexington Catholic’s board authorized the formation of a School Life and Culture Committee that will oversee the diversity, ethics and cultural competency initiatives at the high school. File photo

A prayer service to overcome racial bias is scheduled for Sunday at a Lexington church to address racial tensions and concerns in Lexington.

Rebecca Ballard DiLoreto, executive director of Lexington’s Institute for Compassion in Justice, said people are expected to talk about allegations of racial harassment last spring at Lexington Catholic High School. In response to those allegations, Lexington Catholic’s board authorized the formation of a School Life and Culture Committee that will oversee the diversity, ethics and cultural competency initiatives at the high school.

Also likely to be discussed at the prayer service, DiLoreto said, is that some people recently expressed concerns about a poster that promoted a “Black Lives Matter” club at Bryan Station High School. The club is supported by school officials.

Adrian Wallace, vice-president of the local NAACP, one of the groups sponsoring the event, said that in terms of the Lexington Catholic High case and in light of shootings across the nation, “we are seeking reconciliation and ultimately justice.”

A news release from the NAACP on Friday also cited the “2016 election cycle” and “fledgling police and community relations” as reasons for the service.

The service is “an effort to address the concerns that people have about the tensions and expressions of racial bias,” DiLoreto said. A flier for the event says people will work together to overcome “harmful barriers that reduce our common humanity.”

The prayer service, called “Common Unity,” will be 7:30 to 9:15 p.m. Sunday at Central Christian Church, 205 East Short Street.

There was a thought among several Lexington groups that before the school year began, “we ought to try to come together and try to get those tensions out there and get the concerns addressed in an open forum,” DiLoreto said.

“We want to have a dialogue,” Wallace said.

A prayer service seemed appropriate, DiLoreto said, because many of the groups that were interested in gathering were faith-based and wanted to address those concerns with prayer reflection and music.

At the event, people can sign up for several initiatives throughout the school year, including study circles that will have discussions about overcoming racial bias.

The event is hosted by Central Christian Church and is sponsored by NAACP, Institute for Compassion in Justice, Juvenile Restorative Justice, St. Peter Claver Catholic Church, Wesley United Methodist Church, Imani Missionary Baptist Church and the Catholic Action Center.

Among the groups involved are those who launched an initiative called Safe Summer Lexington, aimed at reducing violence in the city before school starts in Fayette County Wednesday.

Valarie Honeycutt Spears: 859-231-3409, @vhspears

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