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Community rally for daily prayer energizes efforts against violence

Leaders of faith have long preached that curing Buffalo of homicide and street violence is going to take a good dose of prayer.

The city is now on a daily regimen of extra-strength prayer, thanks to Monday evening's kickoff of a yearlong community effort. Dozens of religious leaders, community activists, city officials and citizens rallied outside the Bissonette House on Grider Street.

"We have to continue to be vigilant in our efforts," said Kenneth A. Pryor, a minister and spokesman for Buffalo United Front, an organization designed to reduce youth violence. "We're kicking off 2011 with a community rally."

Pryor said clergy and other community activists will continue each week to lead prayer services from 6 to 7 p.m. Monday through Friday. The prayers will focus on ending youth and gang violence, drug addiction and domestic violence.

After this week's services on Grider, leaders expect to announce a location on the city's West Side for next week.

From there, Pryor said, it is expected that the weeklong prayer sessions -- which consist of praise and worship, as well as pleas for peace -- will extend to other parts of the city.

"It's going to take the entire city," Pryor said. "The community has to do their part."

The genesis of the daily prayer services followed the Sept. 30 death of 15-year-old Dominique Maye. Nineteen bullets were fired at her Hewitt Avenue house, and she was struck and killed while doing homework inside.

After Dominique's death, members of True Bethel Baptist Church led nightly prayer services for a week, held community forums and handed out fliers proclaiming, "Enough Is Enough."

The prayer vigil then continued on a weekly basis at various churches and is beginning its first full year in 2011.

"God," said Pryor, "doesn't take a day off."

e-mail: tpignataro@buffnews.com

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