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This article is from my hometown newspaper. It’s worth checking out.
Odds are these men should never have been friends. One was a family man, the other an ex-convict who once made a habit of robbing banks.
One was a devout Catholic, loyal to his bishop and pope. The other’s an Independent Baptist, bent on winning souls for Jesus and viewing Scripture and Christ as humanity’s sole spiritual authority.
But Ray Walker and Ken Cooper found they had lots in common.
The decades-long friendship they forged deepened the faith of both men – and, some say, demonstrates how interfaith dialogue can and should work.
“Nowadays, people are a little closed-minded,” said the Rev. Robert J. McDermott, former pastor at St. Patrick’s Catholic Church, the Jacksonville parish where Walker worshiped. “They believe there’s no salvation outside of their own religions, and Ray and Ken show that’s not true.”
Cooper, the Baptist ex-con, and Walker, the Catholic, met in 1988, quickly discovering a shared interest in prison ministries aimed at keeping felons from getting in trouble again.
They began meeting weekly in local restaurants. They had no idea at the time those prayerful sessions would continue, rarely interrupted, for 21 years.
“The idea is to get with someone to be accountable to, [and] to share prayer needs with,” Cooper said.
It was out of those prayers that Cooper found the courage to launch the Prisoners of Christ ministry in spring 1989.
“Ray basically prayed it into existence,” said Cooper, 72, adding that Walker later served on the organization’s board of directors.
The prayer meetings ended only recently. Walker died of natural causes Nov. 1 at age 87.
Read the entire article.