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Jacksonville pastors urge action after gun violence

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“Do you really think about people? Do you really pray? wants to ask for a pastor. And he wants people to take other action.

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Often, after a tragedy, one might say the phrase “thoughts and prayers.” This has been said many times after mass shootings. However, more than ever, people want to see elected officials do more. Same local religious leaders have expressed their wish to see a change.

Saying “you are in my thoughts and prayers” is a nice thing to say to someone. The phrase is used as condolences. But in the wake of mass shootings in Buffalo, New York and Uvalde, Texas, pastors Kim Pullings and Mack Knight think that doesn’t hold up.

Knight, the pastor of Impact Worship Center in Kingsland, Georgia, explained that saying “thoughts and prayers” is a way to express empathy. For Knight, the phrase is cliché. This is something he suggests to his congregation not to say. Instead, he recommended “Know I’m here for you” or “I love you, please accept my condolences.”

“When we put an action on it and say ‘you’re in my thoughts and prayers,’ that’s accountability,” Knight said. “Do you really think about people? Do you really pray?

Pastor Kim Pullings, Live Church in Jacksonville, said there should be action after the prayer.

“I think I pray a lot and ask God for greater wisdom because I want to know how to answer. I want to know what my actions should be. So for me, it’s always on the advocacy side,” Pastor Pullings said.

Pullings encourages people to work with faith. That is, go to work for what you pray for. For Pullings, there are things “He asks us to do and we must be willing to do those things.” She refers to the scripture that says “faith without work is dead”.

After the recent tragedies, Pastor Knight said his prayer for society is for people to come closer to God.

“And if they don’t serve the God, I know [then] closer to something that is higher than them,” Knight said.