ROANOKE, Va. – Saturday, the grassroots support group F.E.D.U.P. (Families Expecting Deliverance Using Prayer) hosted a prayer breakfast near the Goodwill Youth HQ on Melrose Avenue.
Eighteen chairs sat empty for the 18 lives lost to gun violence in Roanoke since January 2020.
“You literally see the impact that gun violence has done in this city,” said Rita Joyce, one of the groups co-founders.
Speakers and preachers addressed the crowd.
“If we’ve ever needed the Lord before, surely we need him right now,” said one preacher.
“We have to fight for our loved ones. We have to fight for our children. We have to fight for our community,” said another speaker. “When you say, ‘I’m fed up with this,’ you take action.”
The group prayed for peace, forgiveness and healing. They showed support for the families who’ve lost someone by handing out white roses.
“There is no time stamp. There is no time limit on that grief or our support,” sadi Renea Taylor, another F.E.D.U.P. co-founder.
All three founders have lost family members to gun violence.
“Look this is me, a mother who’s lost a child. I need you to see the hurt and what it does to us. You impact families when you take a life,” said Joyce.
despite the pain-- they want to change the narrative.
“We’ve kind of been defined by the violence that’s been plaguing the city. And that is just not the case. We wanted to spread positivity,” said Taylor.
They’re asking the community to take a closer look.
“The violence is not the problem in this city. It’s a symptom of deeper problems and that’s plural: problems. And we have to get to the root of the what’s going on in this city,” said Taylor. “You have to start the conversation. You have to start the love. Somebody has to extend the hand. Somebody has to extend the heart. And that’s what we did today.”
“Let’s stop the violence. Let’s put the guns down,” said Taylor’s sister and another co-founder Tracy Penn, “Do more praying and put the guns down.”