ALBANY — Albany minister Tarlita McCrary is looking to line the streets of Albany on Saturday to offer a message of hope in a time when many are distressed and suffering.
With more than 150 Dougherty County residents killed by COVID-19 and thousands of others confused and dealing with the disruption of their normal lives, McCrary said she was led to put together a movement.
Beginning at 10 a.m. Saturday, participants will begin lining along a 19-block portion of Slappey Boulevard. It is the first of three planned gatherings, with the second scheduled for July 18 at BJ’s Country Buffet on Dawson Road and the third at an as yet undetermined site in August.
McCrary said participants will hold signs on both sides of the roadway at intersections from West Residence Avenue to 18th Avenue.
“This is our purpose: First of all, I want to restore people’s faith; I want to restore their hope, and I want to restore their salvation,” she said. “Even right now, people are going through despair, people are contemplating suicide. I want to restore faith to them.
“I do know our hope needs to be restored, our faith needs to be restored and our love needs to be restored.”
While the presence of the novel coronavirus is part of the environment, as is the Black Lives Matter movement and protests that have sprung up around the country, McCrary said the event is not meant primarily to address those issues.
“I do want to emphasize we will be doing social distancing and will be wearing our masks and it will be strictly enforced,” she said. “The bottom line is every life matters; every life matters to God. There is anger. I do believe our faith needs to be restored.”
McCrary said she expects more than 100 people to participate, based on those who had signed up earlier, and the public is welcome to join. Pleasant Hill Missionary Baptist Church, of which McCrary is a member, New Seasons Church, and Rhema International Ministries also will participate, she said.
The group will gather at 9:30 a.m. at Phillips Men’s Clothing at 2503 N. Slappey Blvd. Over the next few hours, a procession will head to a parking lot next to Krispy Kreme and will hold a prayer scheduled for 2 p.m. before dismissing.
A float with the theme “Jesus Saves” will be stationed at the parking lot. McCrary said she also envisions placing a billboard with that theme in the city.
“The reason we’re having sponsorships is we want to be able to put up a billboard,” she said. “We’re going to put up signs all over Albany. I just want to bring this hope back to them.
“All of this is only for a season, however long that season is.”