FORT WAYNE—On Nov. 16, the Rev. Bill McGill, senior pastor of Imani Baptist Temple is scheduled to begin his second 40-day water-only fast as his personal act of intervention to end the rash of violence in our community.
A the time of announcement, Fort Wayne had experienced a total of 40 homicides this year, 17 before his fast and 23 since; but the Rev. McGill noted that the city experienced 37 days of peace during his initial time of prayer and reflection. This marked one of the longest stretches of non-homicidal activity this year.
This second fast is set to climax on Christmas Day, which marks the birth of Jesus Christ as Savior of the world in Christian tradition. While recognizing that many will view this as an unreasonable and excessive gesture during a time of family festivities, McGill contends that “the church should be more concerned about ‘holy-days’ than ‘holidays.’
“If in fact the birth of Christ was designed to usher in a measure of spiritual salvation, then certainly this year’s celebration should mark the end of our community’s agitation. But, if the angels’ declaration of peace on earth was wrong, then it’s time for the church to start singing a different song. I remain convinced that they were not wrong but the contemporary church has ceased being an organism that is strong,” said the Rev. McGill.
The local pastor, whose initial fast ended on May 19, has only gained back half of the 34 pounds he lost but is determined to set a new standard for spiritual intervention. He said his personal physician has suggested he modify the fast to a bowl of soup at sunset each day, if and when he reaches 150 pounds.
“His spiritual faith notwithstanding, I am concerned because he possesses only limited body fat to start with and it has only been six months since his last fast,” said Dr. Charles Coats. “But on the other hand, I never believed he would maintain steady and healthy vitals the first time, so what do I know.”
The Rev. McGill believes a concerted period of spiritual consecration and concentration will yield a peaceable fruit.
“I have personally come to a place in ministry where it’s time for the church to put up or shut up. Either we possess the power we preach that’s capable of healing any breach, or nothing we declare each week is within our parishioners’ reach. I am just foolish enough to believe that God will begin to heal when God knows the faith’s representatives are real,” he said.
The Rev. McGill is hopeful that pastors all across the city will see this as a natural response to our state of emergency. In fact, he said he sees the fast as mandated in scripture, for Joel 1:14 says “Consecrate a fast, proclaim a solemn assembly; gather the elders and all the inhabitants of the land to the house of the Lord your God, and cry out to the Lord.” He said he firmly believes that “if the church can unite in persistent prayer the bullets will stop flying through the air. When we lay aside our denominational differences and learn to share, the bullets will stop flying through the air. When these children begin to feel that we care the bullets will stop flying through the air.”
The sanctuary at Imani Baptist Temple will be open for prayer each evening during the fast from 7 p.m. to 8 p.m., representing 40 hours of prayer for the violence to end. The church is located at 2920 Indiana Ave., on the corner of Indiana and Cottage Avenues.
For additional information, contact the Rev. Bill McGill at (260) 410-3430 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.