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Lakewood Church hosts prayer breakfast for victims of terror and persecution

LAKEWOOD, Colo. -- Victims of the violence in Charlottesville last weekend were remembered Saturday in Lakewood.

Hundreds came together for the third annual Ecumenical Prayer Breakfast organized by the St. Rafka Maronite Catholic Church.

The church has helped hundreds of refugees fleeing persecution in the Middle East.

Organizers say the same root causes are leading to violence here in the United States.

Attendees came from several church and religious groups nationwide to discuss intolerance both domestically and globally.

"What has just happened in North Carolina and other places around the United States and the world it just needs to come to secession and it's not going to happen until leaders stand up and say enough is enough," Bishop John Brannon of Living Word Ministries International said.

Organizers say the violence in Charlottesville followed by a series of terror attacks in Europe and the Middle East share a common thread of "persecution" of others which will only grow.

The events brought the gathering a focus on peace and healing.

"America cannot fall into the trap of  divisiveness and hate,” said Father Andre Mahanna, pastor of St. Rafka Maronite Catholic Church.  “We have to unite and pray.  American people are mature and good people."

"The political rhetoric that goes on in the United States is really disconcerting," said Elder Tom Priday leader of the Colorado Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.  “We ought to be able to sit down and discuss differences as friends as neighbors."

"To try to bring clarity to what is causing so much of this turmoil and tribulation and even death and destruction,” said Frank Gaffney, Director of the Washington, D.C. based Center for Security Policy.

A makeshift encampment outside the event symbolized conditions for many Christian refugees from Syria fleeing persecution from their own government.

"We do not want to generalize hate I wish I could find a different terminology simply to protect the people altogether," Father Mahanna said.

"Anytime you're having hidden hatred it gets to a point where it gets a boiling point and until we start dealing with the cause and reasoning behind it we're not going to end it," Bishop Brannon concluded.

The group offered a series of prayers of support for the families of those killed in Charlottesville and attacks in Europe and the Middle East.