About 50 people gathered Sunday afternoon at the bandshell at Elkin Municipal Park for a short prayer service.
The purpose of the service was to pray for the Roten family, Elkin’s leaders and the community, said Pastor T.J. Jones of New Life Church of Yadkinville, who led the service.
“This is not about bashing people,” said Jones to those who joined him and the Roten family. “We’re Christians, God’s people, you are His purpose.”
Last Monday, a bench, which had been placed in Elkin Municipal Park in memory of his 16-month-old son, Mason Camden Roten, who was killed three months ago in an accident in Walkertown, was removed by town officials who said friends of Andrew Roten, a graduate of Elkin High School and the boy’s father, didn’t have prior approval to place it over the weekend.
“The decision has not been finalized on where the memorial will be placed,” said Jones, who noted that town commissioners will discuss the matter at their meeting Monday night.
Jones said there are conflicting stories over the exact happenings of how the bench got placed and whether prior approval was given or not. “The facts are Sept. 6, 2015, the world lost a precious child way too early. The family needs to feel the love of God, the love of the community wrap around them,” he said.
“The voice we share today, is we want people to walk through and see the bench and know there was a family who loved that child,” said Jones.
Mason’s grandfather, Stewart Roten, spoke prior to the prayer sharing that 13 weeks ago his family “learned we have friends in so many places.”
He said people were praying and sharing sympathy from all around the world with them on Facebook. “God chose a difficult path for us, but God sent us a lot of friends to get us through it.
“My son Andrew said he would rather have that boy for 16 months than to have had one month without him,” said Roten.
Jones took the time to share the First Amendment with those attending, and said, “All those things fit here.
“My Lord and Savior didn’t die on a cross for me to sit and be quiet,” he said.
“We are not asking the town of Elkin to give Christians special attention,” Jones said. “We just want to be treated equally.”
He prayed for the family, for the town leaders by name, and for the community.
“It is not about standing up and being ugly, but bringing people to Christ,” he said.
Jones said they were not pushing Christianity on the whole town of Elkin, but asking it to be led in a Christian way.
“I hope and pray they’ll put it closer to the playground to hear the children’s laughter,” said Jones of the placement of the bench. “The family would appreciate the support to fill town hall [Monday].”
Wendy Byerly Wood may be reached at 336-258-4035 or on Twitter @wendywoodeditor.