Metro communities finding new ways to honor Ofc. Wagstaff as they pray for his recovery

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INDEPENDENCE, Mo. -- While an Independence police officer continues to fight for his life, people across the metro are finding new ways to honor him.

Sunday, an Independence church spread blue throughout their congregation and held a special prayer service.

When you drive by New Hope Baptist Church in Independence, you'll notice a small but meaningful change. Blue plastic is tied around cars, buses, trees and even the building. It's something Pastor Darren Tharp felt in his heart to do, after meeting Officer Wagstaff's family.

"I just felt an overwhelming sense of grief for them. Sadness," Tharp said.

Pastor Tharp has been holding special prayer services for Officer Wagstaff, little ways he hopes will show Tom he's being thought of and honored.

"We care. We're praying. We're with you. You're family. What can we do? I know everybody means that. But I think a tangible way of showing. It's one thing to say something, but it's another thing to show something. That was the purpose."

Pastor Tharp hopes whenever people drive by, the blue will remind them to pray and maybe even do their own special tribute to Officer Wagstaff.

"Don't let this stop. Folks need to keep thinking about them and holding them up. Please don't let it stop."

Outside of St. Matthew's Episcopal Church in Raytown, it sounds like any other Sunday. The bells chime outside, and the choir songs can be heard from the sidewalk. The trees next to the sidewalk are ringed in blue.

The services for the 40 people inside St. Matthew’s in Raytown say Sunday’s services meant a bit more since Wednesday. The Wagstaff family attends St. Matthew's in Raytown. Officer Tom Wagstaff was shot in the head while responding to a call in Independence on Wednesday morning.

So Sunday’s services focused on the story of Lazarus, the man the bible says Jesus raised from the dead.

“The story does not end here, explained Yael Abouhalkah, senior warden of St. Matthew's. “Even if there is a death involved, there is life after death. If there's not a death involved, we obviously pull together. Because there are ways of miracles happening, things like that, which, quite frankly, is exactly what we're praying for right now: a miracle for Tom.”

So while the Wagstaff family is facing down the worst part of life, the congregation is focused on giving them its best.

“I think today's message was: there is hope, there is a chance of a miracle, but there's also keep praying,” said Abouhalkah. “Not just for Tom, but the family as well. I think that was the message today - that we cannot lose focus and that we as a parish and hopefully as a Kansas City area, help Tom as well as his family.”

The St. Matthew's congregation is planning a fundraiser for the Wagstaff family. That will be Thursday, April 27th, at the church in Raytown.

Officer Wagstaff remains in critical condition at Centerpoint hospital.

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