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Woman organizes prayer vigil for city

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Sharon Winstead prays for the safety of Rocky Mount police officers Saturday while walking around the Frederick E. Turnage Municipal Building.

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BY AMELIA HARPER
Staff Writer

Sunday, February 10, 2019

A Rocky Mount woman and a few earnest residents came to the Frederick E. Turnage Municipal Building to pray for the city of Rocky Mount during troubling times.

Sharon Winstead, a local caterer and the organizer of the prayer vigil, said she lives in South Rocky Mount and follows the news. She knew her city needs prayer.

“I was driving down Church Street and the Lord just said ‘Pray on the property, pray on the premises.’ I was spending time in the Word and was going over my Bible study list and I saw where I had written ‘Don’t pass the buck.’ So I called to see what I had to do to pray on the premises and just posted it on Facebook,” Winstead said in an interview on Saturday.

Winstead, a modest, self-effacing woman, does not consider herself an activist. On her Facebook page, Winstead wrote: “Please pray for me. God revealed why He chose me to ‘organize’ the P.O.P. (Pray On Premises) tomorrow at City Hall. In His eyes, my attitude has been just as bad as the actions of those dividing our city. Even if no one else comes, I will have been changed to be more Christ-like. And that is worth all the fear and anxiety I have gone through since He started putting this in my heart. Thanks for your prayers!!!”

When some of her followers asked why prayer was needed, she responded on her Facebook page, “There is corruption in our leadership. The city council hired a city manager that has hired her friends to be department heads for salaries too high. Longtime department heads have been resigning. A special council meeting was called because concerned citizens wanted her fired. But the council decided to keep her.  Find articles on Rocky Mount Telegram’s Facebook page by Lindell John Kay. He had been researching the corruption.”

But what really prompted her Saturday prayer vigil was the responses she had seen from the community.

“I was reading the comments on these Facebook sites and its seems that people were ready to lynch everybody and that God was telling me ‘I don’t want you to have that attitude.’ Some of the comments were directed at me and they hurt, but I thought, ‘That is what probably God feels about me.’ He was not happy with my attitude about what should be done to all these people who are dividing my city. I wanted to see them charged or something. But God really wants their hearts changed,” Winstead said in the interview.

Six people came to the prayer vigil at noon on Saturday and then another woman, Ruby Dickerson, joined her later with her two young grandsons. But other people on Facebook said that they would be praying from other locations as well, Winstead said.

“I know that the thing this city needs most is prayer, because without prayer, God’s not going to move and it’s only with God moving that we are going to see change,” Dickerson said. 

Winstead said she also prayed for all the city employees as she walked around the administrative building for two hours on Saturday. She prayed for the city leaders, the city clerks, the cashiers and the garbage men, she said. She touched each of the police cars on the lot and prayed for those officers who would drive them.

“I know that touching their cars was not necessary, but it gave me something to do as I was praying,” Winstead said.

One city councilman posted a comment about the event on Winstead’s Facebook page.

“There is no corruption to pray for ... it’s no more than the past leadership!! No justice, No peace!” Rocky Mount Councilman Andre Knight wrote.

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