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'A spiritual problem.' Lexington faith leaders attend prayer vigil amid troubling violence trends

Images from a Lexington prayer vigil on September 19, 2022
Josh James
Images from a Lexington prayer vigil on September 19, 2022

With Lexington on pace to set a new record for annual homicides, Mayor Linda Gorton joined community faith leaders downtown for a prayer vigil Monday.

Standing beside the Crime Victims Memorial on the Robert F. Stephens Courthouse Plaza, local Christian, Jewish, and Muslim leaders labeled Lexington's increase in violent crime a "spiritual problem" — and one that demands the collective attention of the community.

"Lexington is blessed with all the pieces of the puzzle that we need for this community to achieve."
Rabbi Shlomo Litvin

While some held signs calling for action in specific cases, others raised their hands as moments took on the air of a worship service.

Violent crime has become a central issue in the upcoming mayoral and council races, as the community debates whether to stay the course with the city's current anti-violence programs or opt for different approaches.

BUILD, a massive coalition of area churches, continues to champion a national program called Group Violence Intervention — while Mayor Gorton and Police Chief Lawrence Weathers say the program doesn't have the data to back up its promises.

Josh James fell in love with college radio at Western Kentucky University's student station, New Rock 92 (now Revolution 91.7). After working as a DJ and program director, he knew he wanted to come home to Lexington and try his hand in public radio.