‘Taking back the city’

Published 11:27 am Saturday, May 22, 2010

AHOSKIE – Words of wisdom replaced those of anger here Thursday evening.

Standing in the same location where 19-year-old Ivan Coulton of Ahoskie was shot and killed last weekend, a peaceful assembly of 150-plus individuals gathered during a candlelight vigil…one that not only stirred memories of the slain teen, but addressed the violence now commonly associated with young men.

Jarvis Parker, Pastor of the Soul Saving Station of Ahoskie, stirred memories of Coulton, a 2008 Hertford County High School graduate and football standout who was on an athletic scholarship at North Carolina A&T State University in Greensboro. Coulton’s promising future ended tragically in the early morning hours of Saturday, May 15 when he was gunned down by an unknown assailant on Catherine Street in Ahoskie.

“We lost one of our heroes that the Lord has used for this city on the football field; he played a major role in this city, he has touched your lives,” Pastor Parker said while standing in the middle of Catherine Street, surrounded by a large crowd, some holding lit candles that burned brightly as the sun lowered on the western horizon.

“We feel the pain, we feel the hurt, we feel the loneliness,” Parker continued. “A part of us is missing. But what are we going to do about that now? We can leave this place, saying that Ivan is gone. But even though Ivan is gone, his presence is still here.”

Parker encouraged those harboring anger to put that emotion aside.

“We have to take back our city by loving one another and through much prayer,” he noted. “We need to deal with our differences.

“There’s not a family that doesn’t deal with conflict. You don’t run away because of that conflict, those differences…you deal with them,” Parker added. “When you are honest with yourself, you can deal with those differences. Change will take place through prayer. You cannot help your family, your neighborhood, your city without seeking God’s guidance. Give him total control.”

After leading the large crowd in a group prayer, Parker shared additional comments during an interview with the Roanoke-Chowan News-Herald. He said that through prayer and working with town officials, change would come to Ahoskie.

“One of the things we want to bring about in our city is families coming together to build an altar of prayer,” Parker said. “If we are going to change our city, it starts with families working together to build that altar. We need to work with our city officials, our law enforcement; work together as a team. That teamwork will bring about what the Lord wants for our city.”

Parker said he had been ministering to the victim’s family.

“I’m trying to console and encourage them during this sad time in their lives so they can get through the process of healing from their great loss,” he stated.

In light of this tragic death, Parker sent a message to the young people of Hertford County.

“Let’s put away our guns; let’s put away our differences; let’s get past the anger and the rage. Let’s come together and work together,” he stressed.

When asked what is causing this rage, this anger within young people, Parker concluded by saying, “A lot of the anger spills over from the home. There is a lot of fighting; things going on in the home. These children are not seeing their fathers; the fathers have vacated the home and the mother is not being the mother they need to be in the home. When you have the breakdown in the home, you have the breakdown in the neighborhood and that affects the entire community, the entire city. It all starts at home.”

Funeral services for Coulton are scheduled for 2 p.m. on Sunday, May 23 at Hertford County High School. Burial will be in Newsome Grove Church Cemetery.