‘Declare Dayton’ group marches for unity, prayer

Declare Dayton urged Dayton to pull together Sunday afternoon in a downtown march and prayer service.

Declare Dayton is a non-profit group of churches whose stated mission is “uniting the church to transform communities.” It was that mission, members said, that drove them to march 1.5 miles through downtown from Courthouse Square to Levitt Pavilion.

“We are reaching out to the community, and that’s what this event is about,” said Pat Stearns, a Dayton resident who belongs to Living Word Church. “Community, churches coming together, people coming together, to make a difference — becoming one.”

Joe Hummer marched because he wanted to further “unity in the body of Christ.”

“Just reaching out and being an example to the community,” he said. “I hope they (the community) see the Holy Spirit in us.”

The group strives to do more than march and pray. DaQuawna Farrow, church and engagement coordinator for Declare Dayton, said a core aspect of their work is volunteering for Dayton public schools — volunteering time and goods, whatever schools and students need, she said.

“We’re putting heavy emphasis on a collaboration with Dayton Public Schools,” Farrow said. “To have the presence of the faith community, as mentors, as helps in any direction, in any facet or area that the schools need.”

If people want to get involved, Farrow encouraged them to start by visiting declare.org.

Wearing a sweater that said, “In Dayton as it is in Heaven,” Steve Rudisill, lead pastor of The Point Church in Centerville, said the march was a good way to “remind ourselves that we’re more alike than what our denominations tell us we are.”

“Dayton sees that we can be united and we can help bring people together,” said marcher Petra Steinberger, of Christ United Methodist.

The 4 p.m. prayer march drew well over 100 participants to a 5 p.m. worship service at Levitt Pavilion, marching with a police escort down streets closed to traffic.

The group has been active lately. Declare Dayton partnered with Montgomery County ADAMHS and Levitt Pavilion to hold a pop-up concert Sept. 13 to mark September as “recovery month.” The event featured two bands and speakers talking about the battle against addiction.

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