Hundreds of people gathered at the Indiana War Memorial downtown Thursday afternoon. The group was made up of all different faiths, but with one common goal -- praying for peace.
Pastor David Hampton picked the site of the prayer vigil to send a specific message.
"We are on the steps of the War Memorial because we are seeing war in the streets," said Hampton. "We want to take this opportunity to send a message of symbolism, but also substance that we are going to take the issue of violence seriously and we are not just going to stand back and watch it. We're going to begin to do something about it."
More than two dozen leaders of various faiths and churches took to the steps. The names of each person who has been killed in Indianapolis this year were read out load as a way to honor their lives.
Prayers were offered not only to the victims, but for those committing the crimes as well. Hampton hopes the gathering inspires those who came to reach out to the groups inciting the violence.
"There is just a pervasive spirit of distrust, hatred, hurt, pain, and I think our coming together today in unity and lifting up those names and lifting up prayers will hopefully get to the darkest corners of this city, get to the prisons, and to places where people are hurting the most," he said.
Hampton delivered the opening and closing remarks and concluded by acknowledging that some may question the impact of a prayer gathering. He knows Indianapolis needs action, but says the words and feelings expressed are part of that process.
"Others may critique and criticize that prayer accomplishes nothing because it's not action," he said. "But, prayer is action and the fact that we came together today in unity inherently and in and of itself was a powerful demonstration of action."
Mary Weber connected with the message. She has lived in Indianapolis for 40 years and feels safe, but thinks residents have a responsibility to show unity against violence.
"I do think that it starts with you and if you treat others with respect, they treat you with respect and if you treat others with love, that's what you get in return," said Weber. "I think that one at a time we can do our part in defusing it the best we can."
Mary Ann Galloway joined Weber on the steps of the War Memorial. She says the event creates a sense of togetherness and admits while the results may not be immediate, she believes it can help deter violence.
"We all have choices in how we respond to things. We can be angry at things or we can choose to be peaceful and forgiving, and I think one way I want to get the word out is by the way I live," said Galloway. "Given opportunities to express peace and to pray about peace, I think that will make a difference, maybe one person at a time, but I think that's what we have to do and focus on."
Pastor Hampton said the response from those such as Galloway and Weber is part of the event's mission. He said it creates of spirit of unity and believes that’s imperative in reversing the city’s recent violent trend.
"We read almost 40 names today, victims of violence. It's only April. We don't want to read any more names of those who have lost their lives to gun violence, violence of any kind," he said. "We wanted to take initiative today, and if today was the start of a movement, then, I am happy to see that."
And he hopes that movement is a catalyst for making Indianapolis safer.