The Rev. Adam Carter was kneeling in the cold, raw December wind Wednesday afternoon tending a garden of sorrow on the lawn of Leawood Baptist Church, 8200 State Line Road.
The church pastor was placing the name of a murder victim on one of 188 wooden crosses stuck in the ground beside the busy road. Each represented a murder victim this year in the three primary counties of metropolitan Kansas City, Johnson, Wyandotte and Jackson.
“They represent from Jan. 1 through now,” Carter said. “Unfortunately, we’ve had a handful more and we’ll need to put a few more crosses out.”
The symbolism of the crosses will be joined with a special prayer service next Wednesday at 6 p.m. at the church. Families and loved ones of murder victims as well as the general public are welcome to attend what’s called the “Longest Night.”
“Dec. 21 is the longest night of the year, and it also symbolic because it speaks to what families of murder victims are going through,” he said.
This is the second year Leawood Baptist Church has held this memorial event. It began at Wornell Road Baptist Church where Carter was once an associate. It moved across the border to Leawood Baptist when that church was no longer able to host it.
Carter said about 200 people attended last year’s service, including families and friends of murder victims. It’s described as a worship service of “hope, strength and community.”
“This year, because of how tragic it has been, we’re hoping to pack our church,” he said. “We are sending invitations to families inviting them to let us love on them.
“Many came up to me last and said just to know people in the community care meant so much to to their families,” he said.
The cross display will remain in place until the end of the year.