They shared prayer, food and cake last Friday afternoon inside the famed Dunnell Building at Johnston War Memorial Park.
There were priests, pastors and ministers representing churches of all faiths and denominations throughout the town for the first-ever Faith & Blue event, organized and presented by Chief Joseph P. Razza-and the Johnston Police Department.
From the time Pastor Chris Abhulime of The King’s Tabernacle Church stood at the podium saying, “Oh Lord, we thank you so much for this gathering,” until the Rev. Peter J. Gower from Our Lady of Grace church declared, “we need to give thanks and blessings to our police,” the 90-minute event included prayers from seven clergy members whose churches are all based in Johnston.
The speaking and prayer also featured the Rev. Angelo Carusi of St. Rocco’s Church, Pastor Stephen Fava of the Trinity Assembly of God, Father Richard Narciso of St. Robert Bellarmine Church, Pastor Elton Perdomo of the Greater Rhode Island Baptist Temple and Minister Laura Ward from Devine Deliverance Baptist Church.
Perhaps a statement Gower made best summed up each of the clergy members’ feelings: “I was so moved by the chief’s exceptional invitation and letter inviting us all here today.”
The letter read, in part: “National Faith & Blue Weekend is based on the premise that strong communities are built on mutual respect and understanding. Law enforcement institutions are key pillars of each community and when they work together, neighborhoods thrive.”
Razza then explained that Faith & Blue was launched “to facilitate safer, stronger, more just and unified communities by directly enabling local partnerships among law enforcement professional, residents, businesses and community groups through the connections of local faith-based organizations.”
Also, as the chief told people the small group of people who called Faith and Blue a highly-impressive, informative gathering: “This initiative aims to recalibrate police-community relations through solutions-focused, in-person, faith-based or other community groups and law enforcement agencies.”
Razza, who is a life-long resident of Johnston, received praised from people like Terry Novak, a proud parishioner of St. Robert Bellarmine Church who has long supported and coordinated countless events at the Roman Catholic parish, and Mike Lombardi, a longtime volunteer chef at OLG who offered high-praise about the unique gathering.
Perhaps a perfect example of how and what Faith & Blue brought people from various churches and faiths together was shown by the Susi family of Trinity Assembly of God, who enjoyed talking with Narciso prior to the official part of the program.
Moreover, Faith & Blue – which Razza said will be much larger in 2022 – was further proof that the chief, along with the and women of the JPD, are committed to strengthening the bond between local law enforcement and residents of Johnston and need the help of clergy leaders who as Razza pointed out “are so influential with members of the community through the parishioners they serve!”
In closing, Razza offered: “These ae difficult times facing this great nation, but I like to think that our community and this great town is bounded together by not only faith, but our diversity and individual uniqueness. My door is always open to you and any member of your congregation and I welcome one-on-one and face-to-face interaction and appreciate feed-back on how the JPD can better serve this great town.”
Prior to extending an invitation for attendees to partake in some food, light beverages and beautifully decorated cake, Razza offered special thanks to Deputy Chief Mark Vieria, Maj. Matt Leduc, Capt. Troy Maddocks and Capt. Joseph Salvadore, who the chief said “basically put this together for us.”
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