Creating a sanctuary After doing some research online, Pastor Osborne came across the Adopt-A-Cop program, a nationwide initiative in which participating groups, families and individuals pray for police officers to shield them from the harms they may face in the line of duty. “The goal of this ministry is to have each law enforcement officer covered with an umbrella of prayer protection every day,” says Chaplain Clif Cummings, a spokesperson for the Adopt-A-Cop organization. Pastor Osborne contacted the organization about starting a chapter and found that there wasn’t a single one operating in the state of New Jersey. Her chapter is called “Angels With Broken Wings,” but she hopes to go beyond prayer and make Bethel a welcoming place for officers to gather in fellowship. “I want to open up these doors to allow them to come as a sanctuary for them,” Pastor Osborne says. Pastor Osborne says she sees Bethel becoming a place where officers can get food, water, rest, or simply a place where police can meet with community members and break down misconceptions. She says too often both police and community members have preconceived notions about one another that aren’t always accurate and can be a barrier to healing. “There’s good cops and there’s bad cops.There’s good people and bad people,” Pastor Osborne says. “We have to stop that stereotype.”

“It’s not about race, it’s about understanding.” -Pastor Felicia Osborne

Healing old wounds Pastor Osborne says she understands the anger and frustration that people feel towards police, but believes that opening lines of communication is the best way to benefit the community as a whole. “A lot of times there’s a lot of anger with people that we get in the program because they’ve been incarcerated and gone through the system,” Pastor Osborne says. “I just want to make that a better feeling on both sides.” With Bethel located in a dangerous area of Newark where people lose family members all too suddenly and too often, Pastor Osborne says there is an inherent need for police and the community to work together. She says she will be bringing the idea to city leaders and other organizations in hopes of garnering further support, and she plans to hold meet-and-greets between residents and police officers. She says she’d also like to have some police officers get involved in Bethel’s youth camps, and hopes that one day people can look past the badge, and officers can look past a person’s skin color, to join together in a mission of peace. “It’s not about race, it’s about understanding.” 

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