Well over 50 people turned out for a demonstration outside the Ingles supermarket off 879 Joe Frank Harris Parkway in Cartersville on Wednesday afternoon.
Demonstration organizers said the gathering was meant to show support for Barbara Crowe, a 75-year-old supermarket employee who, allegedly, was ordered to stop praying for customers passing through the grocery store’s checkout lanes.
“She always asks them in advance, she never does it if they don’t want her to,” said 51-year-old Cartersville resident Kimberly Bennett. “In some cases, the retail line was getting a little bit longer because people love her and they want to go through her line.”
Bennett served as something of a spokeswoman for Crowe, who did not wish to speak to members of the media as she left her place of employment around 6 p.m.
While Ingles’ corporate office has yet to make an official announcement on the matter as of press time, Bennett said that apparently some customers have complained about Crowe’s prayer sessions holding up transactions — and that purportedly led to an edict coming down for the Ingles employee of five years to refrain from blessing shoppers.
“From what I’ve gathered from other media reports so far is that no one has received back a call or a statement from Ingles’ corporate,” Bennett said. “And she doesn’t really want to talk to anybody — she’s still very emotional about it all.”
The demonstration — which more closely resembled a prayer vigil than a protest — drew at least two Atlanta TV station camera crews to the local community.
Andrew Hight, pastor of Adairsville's Remnant Church, led the crowd in prayer in the shopping center parking lot around 5:20 p.m.
“This probably hasn’t been the easiest moments of her life, but she’s doing something a lot of people wouldn’t do,” he said. “She’s standing up for what she believes, she’s standing up for what’s right, so we’re here to support her.”
At one point, attendees stretched their hands toward the grocery store in a symbolic display of support for Crowe.
“It was just to show her our love and to show her that we appreciate all her prayers,” Bennett said. “And we’re praying for her, even if she can’t pray for us.”
It remains unpublicized what disciplinary actions, if any, have been taken against Crowe. However, Hight said that the local Ingles chain, and its management, has been “very supportive” of the woman so many in the community call “Miss Barbara.”
“What she’s doing is reaching out and she’s loving and supporting the people in our community,” Hight said amidst the sound of honking motorists on U.S. 41. “This isn’t us protesting Ingles — this is us showing the same love and support to Miss Barbara that Miss Barbara has shown to all of us.”