Expressing a belief in the "power of prayer", the Republican governor of Kentucky has urged faith leaders in Louisville to form walking prayer groups in the city's high-crime areas to help combat growing violence.
On Thursday, Gov. Matt Bevin told pastors gathered at Western Middle School, "I personally believe in the power of prayer. I've seen it."
He encouraged prayer-groups to patrol certain blocks in the West End area of the city, several days a week, every week for a year, and revealed he plans to personally walk, along with his family.
"You don't need permission from me how to do it. You know, you walk to a corner, pray for the people, talk to people along the way," he explained. "No songs, no singing, no bullhorn, no tshirts, no chanting. Be pleasant, talk to the people, that's it."
"That's it. Pretty unsophisticated. Pretty uncomplicated. Pretty basic," he added.
However, Bevin acknowledged prayer is only part of the solution to violence, emphasizing the need for continued economic and political solutions to ridding the city of crime.
"All that must continue," he said. "But the point of today was to talk about something that wasn't financial."
According to the Courier-Journal, in 2016, Louisville experienced its most bloodshed since at least 1960, with 118 homicides investigated by Louisville Metro Police. There were 124 homicides total in Jefferson County, and more than 400 people were shot.
Notes the report: "Just five months into 2017 there have been 52 criminal homicides countywide, including 50 investigated by Louisville Metro Police, putting Louisville on pace to surpass last year's totals. There had been 145 people shot in Louisville in the first four months of 2017, four less than the same period last year."
Bevin's plea was met with mixed reactions: "The only thing I wish was present was a barf bag in front of my seat so I could throw up," Rev. Clay Calloway of the West Louisville Ministers Coalition told Fox News. "Otherwise, I might have stayed a little bit longer."
"It doesn't matter if it's practical or not," Micheshia Norment, whose 7-year-old son Dequante Hobbs was killed by a stray bullet last week, told the Courier-Journal . "It won't bring my son back."
Others, however, applauded the idea: "Doing unto others as you would have them do unto you: Those principles is what this governor is trying to bring back into the faith community, to get out and touch the communities the way we ought to," said Pastor Jerry Stephenson of Midwest Church of Christ.
Bevin, a Southern Baptist, has previously urged Christians to put their faith into action. Himself an adoptive parent, he earlier this year called on believers to open their homes to foster children.
"Three hundred and fifty-plus or minus-young people are right now fully able to and desirous of being adopted," he said at the "Summit to Save Our Children."
There's more than 6,000 churches in Kentucky. There should not be any child in Kentucky able to be adopted, ready to adopted, wanting to be adopted, who does not have a home," he added.
In May, Bevin also appointed Daniel S. Dumas, a senior vice president with Louisville's Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, as his "adoption czar," awarding him a $240,000-a-year contract to lead reforms of Kentucky's child adoption and foster care system.
Seminary President Albert Mohler applauded the news and said he expects Dumas to "make a great contribution" in his new role: "The Christian faith puts a great priority upon taking care of the vulnerable-and children especially," he said.