Local pastors coalition to keep peace during Zimmerman trial



SANFORD, Fla. - During the George Zimmerman trial, the Sanford area will be getting some spiritual guidance.

A coalition of local pastors, in cooperation with the Department of Justice and the Seminole County Sheriff's Office, will be in the courtroom to observe and then communicate with their congregations and the public.

There are more than 100 churches in Sanford. In some parts of town, they are on every corner. Some are predominantly white, others black. Both are being asked to help keep the calm.

Tony Redmond is the assistant pastor at First Shiloh Missionary Baptist Church, which is where the first rally for Trayvon Martin was held.

"It is very important for us to inform the people about what's going on," Redmond said.

It's so important, the Department of Justice and the Seminole County Sheriff's Office has come together, reaching out the area pastors, and even reserving four seats each day for them in the courtroom.

Pastor Jeff Krall is the co-chair of the group Sanford Pastors Connecting.

They are fostering relationships with community leaders and those have real influence in the community," said Jeff Krall with Family Worship Center.

Twelve pastors -- black, white, male and female -- all make up the new alliance.

The mission: to provide rumor control and speak as one voice related to peace and unity in Sanford.

At one Sanford church, last Sunday's sermon was on emotional healing. That's exactly what the pastors hope to provide even though they realize, it won't be easy.

"There's been a new initiative for the pastors to be proactive and work together, so I'm hopeful there will be no negative backlash during the trial," Krall said.

Krall said he has a prayer.

"Civil rights will not be violated, that it is a fair trial, and at the end a proper verdict will be rendered," Krall said.

The pastors will meet this week with the DOJ to map out a daily plan.

The DOJ said the community leaders are vitally important, and not just on verdict day. It said testimony at times will generate strong emotions.

Wednesday, the judge in the Zimmerman murder trial ruled potential jurors will not be sequestered during jury selection.

The judge did not say what will happen once the jurors are selected.

The judge also said their names will never be made public, and the attorneys will refer to them only by their juror numbers.