In wake of mayor scandal, clergy offer ‘healing service’

With Charlotte still reeling from the arrest and resignation of its mayor, clergy from several religious traditions organized a healing service Sunday night and called for renewed emphasis on community and on gratitude for the city’s still-considerable blessings.

One of the ministers, the Rev. Christy Snow, said she’s had an answer for friends and colleagues who’ve told her in recent days that the corruption charges against former Mayor Patrick Cannon – and the unflattering national publicity that’s come with them – would stain Charlotte.

“No, no,” she told the gathering at Park Road Baptist Church. “There’s so much more to be grateful than sorry for. … I love my city, our city, this beautiful Queen City.”

Less than 100 people turned out for the hour of interfaith praying and singing that was sponsored by Mecklenburg Ministries.

But the parade of clergy spoke passionately about Charlotte’s need to move ahead and remember that its greatest strength is not in temporary leaders, but in its willingness to come together for the city it loves.

“Leaders come and go, but the community remains,” said the Rev. Nancy Allison, pastor of Holy Covenant United Church of Christ.

Imam John Ramadan, the new president of the Mecklenburg Ministries board of directors, said that Cannon will be judged by the legal system and ultimately by God.

But as for Charlotte, he said, “our city must move forward.”

Gratitude in the good things about Charlotte can help propel the city beyond its current crisis, said Ronald Carter, president of Johnson C. Smith University.

With the focus on thankfulness, Carter said, “we can continue to build Charlotte as a progressive city that solves tough problems.”

In addition to the spoken words, there was song. “Heal Us Now,” with its Hebrew and English lyrics, was sung as a prayer to God to “once again be whole.”

Danny Trapp, executive director of Mecklenburg Ministries, likened the heartbreak that many have expressed in the wake of the Cannon scandal to the injury an athlete can sustain on the field.

Just as the healing process can make that injured place stronger, Trapp said, “the heart of an individual or of a city is a muscle that grows stronger in community. And that broken heart can make us stronger still.”

Trapp, whose group has about 100 member houses of worship from many faiths, also quoted from Jeremiah in the Bible: “But seek the welfare of the city … and pray to the Lord on its behalf, for in its welfare you will find your welfare.”

Cannon did not appear at Sunday night’s healing service. But five days after his March 26 arrest, he broke his public silence with a text to the Observer saying that he hoped people were praying for him and his family.

“If I could speak to you I would,” Cannon said in declining an interview request from the Observer. “Hoping I and my family are in your prayers.”