On Saturday, a group Leawood Baptist Church members undertook the taxing work of hammering 200 white crosses into the church’s lawn.
Since 2015, the church has put out the array, which faces the heavily trafficked State Line Road, to commemorate the lives lost to murder the past 12 months in Kansas City.
“The big picture is that we want people to be aware that people are being lost to murder,” said Lead Pastor Adam Carter. “The problem is not going away, unfortunately.”
But the church’s efforts to remember the lives lost don’t end there. Leawood Baptist also puts on an annual service for the families of the victims. Held Dec. 21, the Longest Night Memorial Service is designed to show the victims’ families that they are not forgotten during the holidays, when emotional stresses from the loss of a loved one can become all the more difficult.
Jim Mohart, a member of the church since 1978, said the victims’ family members who attend get some catharsis from being around others who are going through a similar loss.
“It really helps the people come to grips with what’s happened,” he said. “Watching that, and the healing that takes place there, it’s really meaningful.”
Carter stressed that the Longest Night service was open to anyone who wanted to attend, and that the mere presence of a large group of people is a welcomed show of support for the families.
“You may not know exactly what to say to someone who has been through something like this,” Carter said. “But you don’t have to say anything. Your presence makes a difference. You don’t have to do anything but come.”