As the Rev. Johnny Amos walks the streets of Columbus’ West Side, he’s praying out loud, a gaggle of people following him.

On two recent Saturday afternoons, those walks took him and others to the streets surrounding Wedgewood Village Apartments, a complex located between Eakin and Briggs roads that an investigation by The Dispatch showed was the city’s deadliest place in 2018.

For Columbus: National technology partnership to help Columbus churches come together to better the city

Amos, bishop and pastor at Shiloh Christian Center on the Near East Side, said he felt God calling him to go into communities in the city where crime is high — like Wedgewood.

And now he and a network of other faith leaders and churches are planning to do prayer walks and tent revivals in five Columbus neighborhoods this summer, kicking them off at Wedgewood.

“What we want to bring is life, hope, peace, love to that community,” Amos said.

About 18 people gathered at Wedgewood Village Apartments on May 29, and on June 5 there were about 14. More walks are planned there for the next two Saturdays.

‘Hymns always work’: Group hopes to promote unity with daily worship songs at Ohio Statehouse this month

Participants gather behind Papa John’s Pizza on Sullivant Avenue and take a loop around the apartment complex, mostly occupied by Somali refugees, praying for the community as they walk.

Ursula Kemp, director of prayer ministries for Pray for Columbus, a network of faith leaders that encourages prayer and worship in the city, is helping to spread the word about the walks. Anyone can join — there is a sign-up link to a “Prayer Walk Interest Form” at — and there is a need given the increase in violence in the city, she said.

“(We’re) really just wanting to pray for peace and bless our city,” Kemp said.

A prayer walk involves praying out loud while walking, with some stops to pray together in a circle, Amos and Kemp said. 

“We are blessing as we walk,” Kemp said. “We’re blessing our communities, asking God to bring peace and bring hope and bring healing.”

Kemp has heard stories of prayer walks revitalizing neighborhoods. Causing change sometimes starts with prayer, she said. 

“Prayer deals with our hearts, and our hearts have to be changed sometimes before we see change in the community,” Kemp said. “I’m a big believer in that, and I think it really mobilizes people to care about their community.”

Helping kids in need: Community groups help Columbus schools offer students safe place to study

Amos has a plan to work with other pastors and do prayer walks in five areas of the city: the West Side at Wedgewood in June; Central Columbus and Downtown in July; and in following months, the East Side, North Side and South Side.

People aren’t just praying in the communities, Amos said; they’re connecting with local advocates and hosting events at the end of each month.

‘Catalyst for the city’: Evangelical Christian denomination behind proposed $200 million development in Columbus suburb

The group will put up a large, revival-style tent from June 24-26 at Wedgewood that can seat hundreds and welcome the community — especially children — to get their faces painted, play soccer, eat, and attend prayer and worship services, he said.

From July 29-31, the tent will be located on a large vacant lot at the corner of East Main Street and Kelton Avenue in the Near East Side. The event there will follow four weekends of prayer walks in that neighborhood, just like what’s happening on the West Side, Amos said. 

The Rev. Norman Brown, senior pastor at J. Jireh Ministries Church on East Main Street, has been working in the Near East Side community since 2010. He’s helping Amos and eight other churches engage with people there. 

‘Activist pastor’: Bishop Timothy Clarke uses pulpit to spread hope, spur social action

Part of the goal, Brown said, is to engage people and find out what their needs are, to collect data about what the people in the community are like and what they’re going through. Then, in August, people will reach out to residents who attended the revival at East Main and Kelton.

Prayer walks help people shed their misconceptions and listen to local residents and God, Brown said. 

“We need to be able to discern what’s going on in the community, what the needs are,” he said. “We need to, by faith, begin the process of allowing the feet — the soles of our feet — to walk upon the land by faith so that we can begin there a transfer of power, transfer of authority. Because the Holy Spirit dwells in us, and when we engage He, too, will engage so we can see the rule and reign of God manifest itself.”

Amos said the prayer walks will help reclaim Columbus for the Lord. He referred to the Scripture in Joshua 1:3, which states: “Every place that the sole of your foot shall tread upon, that have I given unto you.” 

“We kind of use that as a model as we walk the territory,” he said. 

After the group leaves the community, there are local churches ready and willing to open their doors and maintain a presence for potential new members and those in need, he said.

“When we come into an area, we don’t just bulldoze our way in. We ask for churches to join us, and we found these people who have been caring for that community and praying for that community and evangelizing that community, we invited them in,” Amos said. “We are hoping to impact the community with love from the local churches.”

[email protected]


{ link.setAttribute(‘href’, url); }); } })(); function fireNavShareAnalytics (type) { try { let analytics = document.getElementById(“pageAnalytics”), section = ga_data.route.sectionName || ga_data.route.ssts.split(‘/’)[0]; if (analytics) { analytics.fireEvent(`${ga_data.route.basePageType}:${section}:nav-share-buttons:${type}`); } else { if (window.newrelic) window.newrelic.noticeError(‘page analytics tag not found’); } } catch (e) { if (window.newrelic) window.newrelic.noticeError(e); } } ]]>