BRUNSWICK, Ga. – Faith leaders and worshipers came together Monday to pray for the family of 25-year-old Ahmaud Arbery -- and the community at large -- as it continues to reel from the murder case that has drawn national attention to Southeast Georgia.
Arbery was killed in late February while jogging through a neighborhood outside Brunswick.
Three men have now been charged in the killing, which was captured on a graphic video that was released online and sparked national outrage over the case because no arrests had been made more than two months after Arbery was killed.
Within days of the video’s release online earlier this month, the case was handed over to the Georgia Bureau of Investigation, and Gregory McMichael and his son, Travis McMichael -- the two men seen in the video confronting an unarmed Arbery on a street in Satilla Shores -- were behind bars.
Last week, the man who filmed the deadly encounter, William “Roddie” Bryan, was also arrested.
On Memorial Day, a group of about a dozen pastors from various faith backgrounds gathered in front of the Glynn County Courthouse and prayed for the Arbery family and for healing and peace for the community.
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One by one, the pastors from different congregations spoke, offering words of forgiveness, praise, and hopeful messages of moving forward together as a community.
Kimberly Cummings Arbery, Ahmaud's aunt, said gatherings like these are helping her family stay strong.
“It makes the family feel good knowing that they have not forgotten about us. Whatever situation we’re in, they have not forgotten about us," she said. “I just appreciate all of the pastors that came out. That made the family feel a whole lot better because we know someone is out there praying for us.”
Pastor John Williams, who was the chaplain for Ahmaud Arbery’s high school football team, also addressed the crowd,.
“My prayer is that he knew the lord. I know he comes from a great family. I know his mom and his dad, phenomenal people. I actually went to school with his dad. That’s my prayer. Right now, none of this other stuff matters for him. All that matters for him is what led him to Jesus," Williams said.
Cummings Arbery said while it's been hard moving forward without Ahmaud, knowing his family has support from the community is helping them heal.
“We know we’re going to have to continue this walking, community together and stuff like that in order to have peace," she said. "We’re going to find justice.”
The pastors involved in the vigil said they’ll continue praying for the Arbery family and the community as the case moves through the court system.