The Rev. Robert Collier Sr., president of The Black Clergy of Philadelphia and Vicinity (Philadelphia Tribune photo).
By Sherry Stone
PHILADELPHIA — While the state’s largest city continues to grapple with gun violence, a group of faith leaders will meet Saturday (June 3) to look for solutions.
The Black Clergy of Philadelphia and Vicinity will host its Safer Summer in Philly Summit beginning at 10 a.m. at Mt. Zion Baptist Church in North Philadelphia. About the same time, the Mayor’s Office of Youth Engagement will hold its Philadelphia Youth Unity Walk to promote nonviolence.
“We want to do all that we can to ensure that there is less violence of all types,” said the Rev. Robert Collier Sr. of the Black Clergy of Philadelphia and Vicinity. “Which includes carjackings, physical assaults and, of course, gun violence, during summer months.”
Democratic city mayoral nominee Cherelle Parker was invited to the clergy event “to discuss her vision for keeping the city safer. And … Philadelphia School District Superintendent Tony Watlington Sr. will discuss the School District of Philadelphia’s safety plans for the summer,” according to Collier.
The Black Clergy kicks off the weekend inviting every church of every denomination in the area to pray for an end to violence, with a press conference on Friday morning.
“Remember the power of prayer,” Collier said. “Praying is essential in all we do.”
“It is very intentional that we will begin with prayer on this Friday at 11 a.m. at the Octavious V. Catto statue, and will end with the call for all churches to have alter prayer during their worship services on Sunday with a focus on prayer for a safer summer in Philadelphia,” Collier said.
The Black Clergy is also asking that pastors include a message about peace and talking things out rather than resorting to violence when issues come up for this Sunday’s services.
Young people in the Philadelphia area are invited to put on their walking shoes and line up Saturday at Temple’s Liacouras Center at 1776 N. Broad St. The walk is a collaboration of the Mayor’s Office of Youth Engagement, the Philadelphia Youth Commission, The Culture-Shifters Collective, and the Millennial Advisory Committee.
“The PHL Youth Unity Walk brings together youth from all around the city to fellowship, connect and commit themselves to personally support anti-violence initiatives in the neighborhoods, schools and citywide,” according to the Mayor’s Office of Community Engagement.
“We are here to support the Mayor’s Office of Community Engagement,” said Andrea Swan of Temple University’s Office of Community Affairs and Engagement. “The office creates programs that support and empower all of our young people in Philadelphia. There has been a fair share of crime near campus and their messages will be powerful for us to hear,” she said.
The event is not just for Temple affiliates, but for people in the neighborhoods, she added.
“We have shared information about the event with a network of nonprofits that work together, so rain or shine, we will be there.”
The Youth Unity Walk will end at City Hall, around 2 p.m. and will feature speeches from youth leaders, plus lots of music, refreshments, information about summer job opportunities, and city resources.
“We want to especially ensure that our young people have many positive experiences to engage and keep them off of the streets and enhance their spiritual, intellectual and mental growth,” said the Rev. Maxcine Collier, co-chair of the Black Clergy’s Education Committee.
“We hope out of this weekend of action, people will be encouraged to take back to the communities the resources that are available for them to fight gun violence in their own communities,” said the Rev. Gregory Holston, Chair of the Criminal Justice Committee of the Black Clergy.
Sherry Stone is a reporter for the Philadelphia Tribune, where this story first appeared.
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