On Sunday, more than a hundred people gathered at Bethlehem Baptist Church in Dooly County to show love during a time of adversity.
Thursday morning, three people -- including a 17-month-old -- were found dead in Byromville's Hill Street neighborhood.
Along the Dooly and Macon County line, you will find a quiet road that leads to the church.
“Right now father, Dooly needs you. Macon County needs you,” said Pastor Jerry Sanders.
But inside the church, hundreds of people were shouting for peace after crimes took the lives of people in both Byromville and Montezuma.
“When we get on one accordance as a county and when we get on one accordance as a community, the devil might plan to take us out, but he can’t handle what God put together,” said Sanders.
Shalietha Mckenzie was one of the people in the congregation. She says she is the niece of Willie Merrell, one of three people who were shot and killed in Byromville.
“It left my mouth opened, shocked...because I don’t know why nobody would do that to my uncle,” said Mckenzie.
When Mckenzie heard Pastor Sanders would be talking about love and unity, she says she went looking for peace.
“We need to learn to love one another more and show our love. Not just say that you love a person; you need to show it because tomorrow could be too late,” said Mckenzie.
Sanders says Mckenzie is not alone.
“This is a small, close-knit community. In some form or fashion, everybody's been impacted. Everybody in this church has been impacted,” said Sanders.
He says it is a town full of people looking for healing, so he wants to provide that through the word of God.
“This is Mayberry. Everybody knows everybody, everybody loves everybody and we're going to bring that back together because we're going to stand together,” said Sanders.
Mckenzie says she's hopeful for change, but she says she is still looking for answers.
Sanders says they are working on creating a center for youth in the area to help guide them away from crime.
If you would like to learn more about the center and how you can help, click this link.
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