CAMDEN, NJ — Friday the 13th has long been associated with bad omens and bad luck, but Yocontalie "Connie" Jackson hopes to make it seen in a different light.

The Camden native is calling on people across the city to come together in unity and prayer Friday afternoon at Roosevelt Plaza Park in front of Camden City Hall. The gathering, "Stop, Drop and Pray," will be held from noon to 12:30 p.m.

"A lot of times people look at Friday the 13th as a negative, but I'd like us to look at it as a positive," Jackson said during public comment at Tuesday night's city council meeting.

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Residents and others will be encouraged to take part in five points of prayer, which she said is more about being united and less about any specific religion. These prayers are for: families that have lost loved ones; the safety of city school children; teachers and administrators; peace on the streets; and for the city of Camden.

Jackson said that she spoke with Mayor Frank Moran about allowing city employees to participate at that time. Individuals in Camden during the day but from elsewhere are encouraged to translate the message and direct thoughts to their homeplace.

A flyer distributed at the council meeting asks those who cannot attend the event to stop wherever they are and pray.

"I believe that prayers change things," she said. "...It's not about churches and things like that, it's really about unity, about love, about praying those five points and doing it as a group."

Jackson, who is a longtime gospel recording artist in the region, will wrap up the afternoon with a rendition of "Things Will Get Better," a song co-written with musician Chris Stevens.

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