Black Clergy Launches Gang Violence Intervention Initiative

Church Coalition Pledges $100,000
Press Conference on June 16, 2016

A coalition of African American churches launched a grand endeavor on Thursday June 16 to combat violence and high unemployment rates in the black community. At a press conference, dozens of faith leaders in the African American community committed $100,000 to be spent on gang violence intervention and addressing the staggering unemployment gap and economic disparities in their community. Watch WCCO-TV’s recent coverage of the story.

The belief among church leaders is that it’s time to act out in faith, to address the dysfunction of our time.

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WCCO-TV Reporter Reg Chapman (Center, Right) Interviews African American Clergy

The African American Church has always stepped forward in seasons of community crisis. And recently church leaders across denominations have been meeting and praying together to launch a spiritual offensive against the powers of darkness and the evil spirits they believe are out to steal their peace and kill their children.

“Our resolve and our commitment as the coordinated efforts of African American churches is to assert our historic role and accept the responsibility to nurture, protect and provide for our people,” said Rev. Alfred Babington-Johnson, CEO and President of Stairstep Foundation.

If you or your church would like to participate in this initiative, or contribute financially, contact us.

Dealing with the Root of the Issue

These African American clergy members believe they are uniquely positioned to offer solutions to the problems many in their community face.

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African American Church Coalition On Stage

“We rise as African American churches and allies to announce our own diagnosis of this time in which we live, and our own formulation of a solution. The unprecedented amount of violence and gang conflicts we are experiencing must be addressed directly, but this is a symptom of the issue, not the core of the matter. The root cause of the issue must be dealt with,” said Rev. Babington-Johnson.
Rev. Babington-Johnson pointed to economic deprivation, a lack of economic and educational opportunities, and disproportionate prison sentencing as a few issues the African American church coalition is trying to address head-on.

Greeting 4“Through this initiative, we’re defining our own narrative. This isn’t coming from the government, the city or county. We are saying here is the problem we recognize going on in our community, and here is the solution. If you want to join us, we welcome you in joining us. It’s time for us to act on what we know,” said Rev. Jerry McAfee of New Salem Baptist Church.

Engaging with Today’s Youth

greetingThis initiative will addresses the complicated issues of violence through prevention and intervention by hiring dozens of youth workers to recruit gang members or at-risk youth at the street-level: helping them to get off drugs, finish their GED, and find employment.
“Central to our action is an immediate, aggressive, intervention strategy to reconnect with our youth through the deployment of youth workers to engage with the most alienated youth,” said Rev. Babington-Johnson.

“The churches are in the front of all of this. They will provide the home base. Mentors will be assigned to each of these youth workers, who will go through rigorous training,” said Steven Belton, president of the Urban League.

Greeting 6The initiative will also recruit job coaches to connect unemployed people with employers who will hire applicants with criminal records, and help drug-users to clean-up in order to get and hold a job. Community leaders and clergy will be trained in mental health aid, to bring healing and recovery to the many people who have experienced trauma as a result of the rash of gang violence.

An Invitation to Other Churches

Greeting 5Churches outside of Minneapolis are invited to join in this initiative. Wooddale Church, based in Eden Prairie and Transform Minnesota are partners in this church-led coalition.

“This is an urban/suburban initiative. We are coming in as along-siders, and are learning what our role is in seeing the violence stop. We are hoping many other suburban churches will do the same thing,” said Richard Payne, Missions pastor at Wooddale Church.

If you or your church would like to participate in this initiative, or contribute financially, contact us.

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African American Clergy Pray Together

June 20, 2016
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