As efforts to defund police departments across the nation continue, a large group of clergy from one Ohio county recently called for a day of prayer and appreciation for its local police force and sheriff's department.
Pastors representing 89 different congregations throughout Richland County expressed their appreciation by holding a press conference where they issued a special proclamation for all local law enforcement, signed by all of them, the digital news bureau Frontlines Ohio reported.
The Day of Prayer and Appreciation for Local Law Enforcement" was held on Sunday, June 13.
"We are seeing law enforcement around the nation bleeding officers thru resignations and retirements," said Pastor Matt Merendino of the Clear Fork Alliance Church located in Bellville. "In addition, our local police departments are also seeing dropping numbers of applicants for job openings, and the local police academy is graduating less students majoring in Criminal Justice. We want to champion the cause for our local police. As efforts to divide our nation continue, we stand united in support of our local police and our resolve is only getting stronger."
Rev. El Akuchie of the Richland County Prayer Network points out the United States was founded on Judeo-Christian values.
"The Founding Fathers confirmed the Bible is the leading source of morality in Western Civilization by promoting law and order and forbidding murder, adultery, the stealing and coveting of personal property. Our community is no different; we have a history of corporately praying for Almighty GOD in times of adversity."
In addition, 14 of the congregations raised $5,000 to support the county sheriff's department and police departments in the cities of Mansfield, Ontario, Lexington, Bellville and Butler, according to Frontlines Ohio.
"We are donating these funds for our officers and their equipment needs. It is the least we can do. Our hope is that this small gesture can help improve staff morale and provoke other stakeholders to do the same," said Pastor Hank Webb of the Belmont Community Church located in Mansfield.
Richland County Sheriff Steve Sheldon said he and his deputies were thankful for what the pastors do.
"Both Mansfield City and Richland County have 'In GOD we trust' emblems on their police cruisers," he said. "While we have problems in our community, we know that GOD is still bigger than any problem we have."
Mansfield City Councilman Jason Lawrence added, "If you are in law enforcement and you want to serve in a community that supports law and order, move to Richland County, Ohio, and bring your family with you. We believe this community can be a great place for both the young and the old to live in."
Watch the Richland County, Ohio pastors press conference below: