Youngstown pastors call on citizens to 'take a stand' pray and report violence
Church leaders from the Valley have announced a multi-pronged approach to stopping the kind of violence that claimed the life of a little girl in Youngstown.
Members of the United Pastors, Clergy, and Community Leaders of the Greater Youngstown Community gathered on Thursday to condemn the surge of dangerous and deadly crimes that most recently included the death of ten-year-old Persayus Davis-May and 40-year-old Michael Callahan.
The two died early Wednesday during shootings in neighborhoods along South Avenue.
The clergy leaders called on community prayer, literally accompanied by signs of support to end the violence, and a call for people who see violence or have information about the violent crime to report those crimes.
Describing the current climate in the city as an experience of “spiritual warfare”, Pastor Kenneth Simon called on citizens to become part of the solution to bring justice.
“We will not allow these misguided and thoughtless offenders to terrorize our community,” said Simon.
Reverend Lewis Macklin, President of the Baptist Council, urged neighbors to put signs in their windows or yards reading “Stop the Violence – Pursue Peace”. The signs are available at the New Bethel Baptist Church, 1507 Hillman Street, or by calling 330-747-2125.
Churches are also making forms available to the public that can be submitted anonymously to report any information about violent crime.
In addition to calling for prayer and fasting, citizens are being asked to take part in church-based training for mentoring and conflict resolution programs designed to get at the root cause of violence.
According to Simon, feuding families and gangs fighting over drug activity is behind the violence, further blaming acts of retaliation.
“One act of violence precipitates another,” said Simon.
Pastor Michael Harrison said prayer marches will continue in the city. Plans are also in the works for a three-night evangelistic revival. Harrison plans to train people to knock on doors to spread evangelism.