A Kansas City Lament - Word&Way

A Kansas City Lament

God of our weary years

God of our silent tears

(from LIFT EVERY VOICE AND SING by James Weldon Johnson)

How does a rally turn deadly? I am so weary from the announcement of senseless gun violence that changed a parade to a day of pain. Moreover, this was a mass shooting. There is no single answer to mass shootings. But there are answers.

There is an all-hands-on-deck approach. There is both/and. Yes to better gun laws and yes to additional mental health services. And, yes to a painful process of national introspection on the decline in our personal mores and the social media obsession that leaves so many isolated. And, yes to anti-bullying efforts.

Darron LaMonte Edwards

We owe it to our children to do something. But, in our simplistic world “to do something” has come to mean to find the only solution. Which has also come to mean rejecting an opponent’s solution. Which means we do nothing.

I have developed a five-step plan that we need to work through. First, while city leaders determine what has happened according to their investigation, we all need to weep with those who weep (Romans 12:15). We want answers. People want help.

As a community leader, the way I have chosen to process these moments is to lament, learn, and sometimes unlearn, lean on my faith, love without apology, and then lead in a path forward. I would encourage you to try this method.

Lament as you mentally question “Why do these things keep happening?” THIS IS KANSAS CITY! We need to embrace it so we can erase it! Steps away from the Missouri Governor, City Mayor, Chief of Police, business leaders, and professional athletes, these villains decided to vilify Valentine’s Day.

Lament that children were not only traumatized but shot and trampled upon. There are definitely lessons we need to learn.

We must learn that the Kansas City Police Department cannot do it all. I’ve learned to appreciate what they do to keep communities safe. Now, Kansas City we have to learn that we are UNITED in this problem. This is not an urban, east side, poverty-stricken, broken window neighborhood problem. I was deeply reminded that this gun problem is a systemic poison that must be drained and refilled with reform and repentance. We cannot stand at the same podium to lament this tragedy and then sit on the opposite side of the table when it’s time to enact sensible gun reform.

People attend a candlelight vigil for victims of a shooting at a Kansas City Chiefs Super Bowl victory rally Thursday, Feb. 15, 2024 in Kansas City, Mo. More than 20 people were injured and one woman killed in the shooting near the end of Wednesday’s rally held at nearby Union Station. (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel)

Through this challenging moment, I have had to lean on my faith. I am grateful that public officials in my city have been quick to act and respond. I lean on my faith because I long for a day when we have moved beyond tragic events like this. If we recognize the reality of mental illness, then we have to address the reality of weapons and mass violence that are in the hands of people who are broken human beings. This is the message of faith communities according to the Holy Scriptures.

Here comes the most crucial step: we must continue to love without apology. The grief is so heavy. The only way to love courageously, for me, is to pray. Prayer is not all you do, but you should never do anything until you pray. We ought to pray as if it all depends on God, but we have to work as if it all depends upon us.

I share it with you my prayer:

Almighty God,

We thank you for keeping watch over our city as we are all shaken by the happenings in Kansas City near Union Station — We thank you for deploying our first responders and valiant community members to diffuse a volatile situation. For everyone who attended the Back to Back Super Bowl Championship parade and pep rally —  We pray for their mental health and well-being. Lord, we all desire to go home safe. Help us to deal with the stress and strain of the days, weeks, months, and years ahead. 

In the name of Jesus. Amen.

Finally, I must lead on a path forward. This is the real work. The work must focused, intentional, and heartfelt. It’s interesting that we can all point to our problems, but very few want to work on them. A real solution is needed. I’m listening. And I stand ready to lead or run the play.


Darron L. Edwards, Sr. is lead pastor of United Believers Community Church in Kansas City, MO.