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Edify Project seeks to link churches with police, to build closer community relationships

The Edify Project

The Rev. Rondie Goode (standing) explains The Edify Project for Rome city commissioners on July 25, 2016. Representatives from eight local churches appeared before commissioners including Carrie Edge (seated to Goode's right), Pastor Harvey Palmer and the Rev. Carey Ingram. Fourteen churches have committed to the new adopt a cop and adopt a neighborhood program for special prayers in a bid to build better community relationships across Rome and Floyd County. (Doug Walker / Rome News-Tribune)

Floyd Sheriff’s Office Deputy Carrie Edge recalled crying as she put on her uniform for the first time after five Dallas police officers were shot and killed by a gunman on July 7.

“I felt a certain responsibility for pulling my family into this,” Edge said. “Here, as of late, because of the conditions of our communities in the United States, putting on your badge sometimes feels like you’re putting on a target.”

Edge hopes the efforts of The Edify Project she helped start will prevent the events of Dallas from reaching Rome and Floyd County. “We’re trying to connect the officers who work the areas around our local churches to the families at the church,” Edge said. “We want to break down those walls and put the faces back on law enforcement officers.”

Members of local churches will “adopt a cop” who serves their church’s neighborhood, and through prayer and communication will build a relationship with those officers.

Thirteen area churches have signed up for the project, and Edge said “it’s on the hearts of local pastors of every denomination.”

Apostolic Faith Ministries in Hiram has also joined to pray for their local law enforcement agency.

The Rev. Rondie Goode, of Kingdom Church International in Adairsville, said the project hopes to kick off on Aug. 28 or Sept. 4.

“If we know who is patrolling our communities it’s going to make our prayers stronger,” Goode said.

Participating churches will invite their officers to their Sunday service on one of those days to introduce themselves to the congregation.

“It’s uniting neighborhoods, it’s uniting churches, and it’s uniting law enforcement back to the people they serve,” Edge said. “Ultimately, it’s hard to do something negative to someone when you have that face-to-face connection.”

Edge said project participants commit to doing three things for officers of the Rome Police Department, Floyd County Police Department and Floyd County Sheriff’s Office.

Participants provide officers with daily prayer, share periodic correspondence and supply gifts of appreciation, Edge said.

As a member of Kingdom Church International, Edge said The Edify Project is an extension of the Prayer Revolution project the church started to pray for government officials.

“We had this spiritual revelation that law enforcement officers … are the authority over our neighborhoods. If we pray for them and lift them up we in turn are praying for our communities,” Edge said.

Goode is working with area pastors to implement the project, while Edge is linking law enforcement officers to churches.

Harvey Palmer III, pastor of Chubb Chapel United Methodist Church in Cave Spring, said many of the church’s congregants are excited to cover officers in prayer.

“We are blessed in Rome and Floyd County,” to have such “wonderful law enforcement officers,” Palmer said.

However, people can become distracted to those blessings, he continued. “We overreact to situations nationwide and don’t look at our own house … and see how blessed we are.”

The role law enforcement officers play in communities is something spiritual in nature, Edge said.

“I believe it’s one of the most spiritual positions you can hold because you are considered that sheep-dog over God’s flock,” she said.

However, the continual stress of bearing that responsibility can be tasking, and at times may force officers to re-evaluate their humanity, Edge added.

“Our neighborhoods are only as peaceful and safe as the guardians themselves are content and secure in their homes,” she said. “Yes, they are the umpires of our communities, but they are also human beings with families.”

That’s why both Goode and Palmer said they will address ways of keeping the spirits of officers lifted with gifts such as food or candy to remind them of that humanity.

The project is not scaled to be a short-lived experiment, Edge said, but is set to be a lasting commitment to support those who answered the call of law enforcement.

“What I hope happens is we have more families sign up than we have law enforcement officers,” she concluded.