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"I'm going to pray" | East Knoxville church to host citywide service after Austin-East High School shooting

One pastor at Overcoming Believers Church said that to find a solution to gun violence, the Knoxville community needs to come together.
Credit: Grace King

At a church in East Knoxville, community members were set to gather for more than a regular service on Tuesday. Instead, the church hosted a prayer service to help the community heal after a shooting at Austin East High School.

The shooting left another student dead Monday afternoon after four others died due to gun violence earlier in the year. The violence has left the community in anguish, with parents and students pleading for action to keep kids safe. 

During several events following the shooting, many community members also called for an end to the violence. Following the shootings earlier this year, Knoxville Mayor Indya Kincannon announced a partnership with Cities United — an organization that works to prevent gun violence across the U.S.

"People have been asking, what are you going to do?" said Pastor Daryl Arnold from Overcoming Believers Church. "And you know what I'm going to do? I'm going to pray. I'm going to pray more than I've ever prayed before."

The event will be held at the church, 6 p.m. Tuesday evening. Arnold said that he invited spiritual leaders across the city to join him for the citywide prayer event. 

"Let's get together and talk to God because this is bigger than what's going on in our heads," he said. "This is about a heart transformation ... We got to hug them tighter. That would be my challenge to you, who are watching. Hold your child tighter tonight, pray longer. Don't let them leave the house without saying, 'I love you.'"

Arnold officiated funerals for three teens shot and killed in Knoxville this year.

"I believe that the pain we're all experiencing in the lives of these young people, we have to think about it in regards to what's taking place in our community," he said. "There are people that you've never heard of that are still mourning and still breaking, and still struggling with what took place."

Everyone is welcome at the event at Overcoming Believers Church Tuesday evening.