A northeast Oklahoma City church gathered Sunday to send a message that not only do black lives matter, but all lives.
The Elevation of Faith is a newly formed church. About 60 members gather at the Oak Room on Lincoln Boulevard each Sunday. However, following a week of violence, their service spilled into the street.
“We have to do better people, we have to do better, if we want change, we have to first start with ourselves,” said Pastor Ivan Manuel during his sermon on Sunday.
There was a time, though, when Manuel didn't stand up before a congregation.
“I've been in a situation where I’ve been jacked up by the police,” he said. “I was being ignorant, I was being outright disrespectful, and I brought that on myself.”
Learning from his own experiences, he now believes, more than ever, there needs to be change and he believes that change begins at home.
“Let's bring our kids back to the foundation, maybe we mess up, maybe not but let’s teach them morals and values of life, how to respect authority,” Manuel said.
Church members first united in song and prayer, honoring the victims in the recent police shootings this week of two African-American men, and the killings of five police officers in Dallas during a Black Lives Matter protest.
“We need everybody to come together and show support,” said church member Atoya Washington. “We don't support the violence or anything like that, we just want peace.”
Following the service inside, the congregation took to the street, to march down Lincoln Boulevard to NE 50 Street and back.
“Black lives matter, white lives matter, blue lives matter whatever it is, it all matters,” said Teangelo Morris, a church member. “Everyone makes a difference and I believe if everybody played a part and would just treat other people how you want to be treated, there would be no such thing as black lives or all blacks, it would just be lives.”
Many of the church members said they were marching into Bricktown Sunday evening to show support during the Black Lives Matter protest.