Local church group prays for peace and Michael Brown\'s family

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COLUMBIA - Members of the Columbia Seventh-day Adventist Church gathered Wednesday evening in Douglass Park to pray for peace and the community both in Columbia and Ferguson. 

Pastor Sam Whatley lead the prayer. He said members of his church have been praying for peace and harmony all around Columbia, but focused on Douglass Park after repeated instances of violence over the past year.

The group also prayed for those in Ferguson, as well as the family and friends of Michael Brown. 

"We could just focus and harp on negative things," Whatley said. "It was a tragedy what happened, no doubt. But we've got to be looking for answers on the side of peace and harmony, not on the side of violence and crime."

Whatley said the group has been praying at the park for almost a year. He said in that time, crime in the park has gone down.

"We have come to do all we can to bring peace to the park, to bring a sense of community to everyone in Columbia, no matter what your race, color, religion, religious background," Whatley said. "We just want people to be able to come and experience what parks are designed for, to have peace and harmony and joy."

The prayer group teamed with Moonlight Hoops, and they pray before every game. The summer season of Moonlight Hoops will wrap up next Wednesday with the All-Star game, and will feature special guests including author and speaker Jeremy Anderson, speaker Brian Thomas, and gospel artist Jillian Monet.

"It takes all of us in the community: pastors, teachers, moms and dads to come together and embrace community," Whatley said.