East County News Service
January 3, 2017 (La Mesa) – About 100 people gathered on New Year’s Day afternoon at Mount Helix Park Amphitheater for a “Prayer Summit,” hosted by Unite San Diego, an East County-based coalition of pastors, elected officials, business owners and community leaders.
The program consisted of brief remarks from an elected official followed by a local pastor who prayed for them, including: El Cajon Mayor Bill Wells and Chris Leeper of New Beginnings Church; State Senator Joel Anderson and Barry Sappington of Crosspointe Life Church; Santee city council member Ronn Hall and Jerry Phillips of Scripture is Alive Church.
Other speakers included: David Mijashiro, superintendent, Cajon Valley Union School District, who was prayed for by Ron Wade of Church of Compassion; El Cajon Police Chief Jeff Davis, who was prayed for by Rolland Slade of Meridian Baptist Church; George Runyan, founder and director, San Diego City Church Ministries, who was prayed for by Pastor Sean Beaudoin of Amazing Grace Church.
“This was our fourth year to start the year off right with prayer and seeking the face of God,” said Michael Griffiths, director, Unite San Diego. “Our theme was `Christ our Peace,” and our vision was `No More Barriers.’” Many attendees were members of churches where the pastors serve, he said.
In his remarks, Wells said, “Last year we prayed that El Cajon would become known in the world for our faith, but we did not anticipate how God would answer that prayer.” The city drew worldwide attention in the days following Sept. 27, when El Cajon police shot and killed Alfred Olango, an unarmed 28-year-old refugee from the Uganda, who reportedly took a shooting stance while holding an object during a confrontation with officers in a shopping center parking lot near Broadway and Mollison Avenue.
The incident sparked race riots as Olango became the latest unarmed black man to be shot by law enforcement in a series of similar shootings across the nation. It also led to an intervention from local pastors who organized prayer vigils. One such prayer meeting held at the El Cajon Police Department headquarters drew a diverse group of about 50 people, including African-American pastors, Middle Eastern pastors and members from churches representing many denominations.