Faith leaders hold “prayer luncheon” for Memphis, Shelby County officials

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MEMPHIS, Tenn. -- Faith leaders gathered at Calvary Episcopal Church Monday to pray for elected officials in Memphis and Shelby County, bracing for a challenging year ahead.

Calvary Episcopal Church Rector Christopher Girata prayed that leaders, "Make decisions that move Memphis forward. Make decisions that help keep justice and love at the heart of our common life."

Some community leaders, like City Council Members Worth Morgan and Frank Colvett, along with Mayor Jim Strickland, attended the prayer luncheon.

"It means a lot. We've got some difficult issues and difficult days ahead," Morgan said.

They accepted prayers from faith leaders for success in improving Memphis and Shelby County.

Girata said the church hosted the lunch so that community and faith leaders could acknowledge that faith plays a role in the identity of the city.

"I really do appreciate the prayers. I do think that's very important," Strickland said.

Community leaders are already facing significant hurdles, just weeks into the year.

Monday morning's homicide was the 34th of 2016.

Strickland said Interim Police Director Michael Rallings has more officers on the streets.

Strickland said data-driven policing works, putting more officers in places where crimes happen, but preventing homicides is not like preventing burglaries.

"Homicides are a different story. They're not predictable. For that reason, they're really hard to police, but that doesn't mean we won't keep trying," Strickland said.

The group prayed for progress and peace.

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