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Faith leaders fighting violence

GALVANISE: David Shosanya using social media to reach out to a network of church leaders and form a plan of action

BRITAIN’S BLACK Christian community has been in overdrive during the last two weeks, following a frenzy of youth killings by the knife and gun attacks that have hit the headlines and got everyone, from politicians, to church leaders as well as men and women on the street and the pews, asking: “What can b done to stop youth violence on our streets?"

The National Church Leaders Forum (NCLF), one of the foremost representative bodies for black church leaders, has issued a statement where they make clear the current crisis needs a spiritual, family and Government response.

They have called for better parenting and for special attention to be given to children whose fathers are absent from their lives.

The NCLF has also called for a national moment of mourning for victims of gun and knife crime, more resources for organisations that work with at risk youth and gangs and increased funding for youth projects that help young people achieve their social, economic and political aspirations.

The organisation has also supported calls for discussion about youth crime and violence with the Home Office and develop constructive community partnership initiatives, empowering the police to carry out targeted stop and search in areas of high risk and the teaching of social responsibility, self reliance and self determination.

Christian leader, Rev David Shosanya, a co-founder of Street Pastors and former Head of Missions at the London Baptist Association is galvanising church organisations and leaders, using social media and his personal networks to get leaders to attend a special meeting to discuss a plan of action within the next few
weeks. He expects more than 200 church leaders to attend.

Rev Les Isaac, head of the Ascension Trust, which is home to Street Pastors has asked interested parties to sign a petition requesting an urgent debate in parliament on strategies to combat gun and knife crime.

He’s also sent out a letter to Christian leaders asking them to attend a meeting on Tuesday (April 24) in Kennington, south east London.

While church leaders are arranging to meet en masse, there are Christians on the ground who have attempted to make their presence felt and show communities and young people that they care.

Junior Spence, pastor of Faith City in Hackney, east London has, for the past 18 months, held prayer services in youth crime hot spots across London. He is hoping to host new prayer events in Hackney and Tottenham in the forthcoming months.

Victory Outreach, a church that has had great success reaching out to former drug addicts and young adults involved in crime, recently went on a prayer walk in Hackney – with Christians from across London joining them. They will be leading prayer walks in Hackney once a month.

A group of Christians in Croydon are planning to go on a prayer walk in the area on April 26 and earlier this month, a group of Christians, led by Hazel Nelson-Williams, a Christian wife and mother of five, went to Tottenham, the day 17-year-old Tanesha Melbourne-Blake was shot to pray and talk to those that had gathered on the street.

Time will tell how things will pan out and what Britain’s black Christian community can do to stem the rise of violence in our cities, but make no bones about it, black church leaders are ready and willing to make a difference and have taken the first necessary steps to make the changes everyone wants to see.

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