Columbia Groups Hold Community Picnic to Combat Violence

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COLUMBIA - A Columbia chapter of Free Masons and Seventh-Day Adventist Church volunteers cooked food, made snow cones and prayed for the community together in Douglass Park Saturday afternoon. 

"Even though its raining, we are happy to be here," chairwoman Diana McCray said.  "And we've had several people come out and talk with us."   

About 30 people turned out for some food, music and fellowship with each other.  The freemasonry chapter and Seventh-day Adventist Church serving the food didn't plan to coordinate their two separate events, but because of the rain decided to share the shelter. 

The chairman of the freemasonry group said they decided to set up the picnic in Douglass Park because the park is the center of the community in most need of some positivity. 

"Well, this is where the community is that needs, that looks for help and looks to people to help them," chairman Richard Williams said.  "So, we decided instead of bringing them to us, we should come out to the community where they're at." 

Williams went on to say events like this one can improve race relations in communities.

"We need groups to help people who are in need," Williams said. "We need to let people know that especially with African Americans, the way things are going nowadays. We want to make sure that people know that there are some African American groups that are doing positive things for the nation, their community and people at large."

Volunteers from The Seventh-Day Adventist Church in Columbia do Saturday prayer walks starting at the Office Depot parking lot on South Providence Road and said they hope to positively impact people in need through the walks and Saturday's picnic. 

"The gospel will penetrate race," Senior Pastor Sam Whatley said. "It will penetrate economic situations and I believe Jesus has the answer for us.  So we are just bringing Jesus to the people on the streets."