Pastors fighting back against violence
BENTON HARBOR, Mich. --- Two pastors in Benton Harbor announced plans on Thursday to fight back against the rise in violent acts throughout the community.
The idea started when Maurice McAfee, Pastor of New Bethel Baptist Church and Carlton Lynch, Senior Pastor of Pilgrim Rest Baptist Church realized they were both meeting with two separate families at the same time that had just lost a loved one to a tragic death.
The pair said that is when it clicked and they realized it was time to do something about the violence in the community.
McAfee and Lynch hope to target the younger community by teaming up with local businesses to help the youth find summer jobs or even just open the door to be a resource for grief counseling.
McAfee said the times have changed and they are willing to think outside the box in terms of engaging the younger community.
“We plan on going where they are,” said McAfee. “So we’ve got to start knocking on their doors, we recognize that we’re dealing with a different generation.”
For Lynch and McAfee, the connection is personal. The decision comes after years of watching families in the community torn apart.
“I mean that’s not easy just walking up to a crime scene seeing yellow tape and a mother screaming trying to get into the tape to see about her son,” said Lynch.
“You never forget the phone calls…you never forget when you get to the scene,” said McAfee. “Sometimes as pastors we even have to go in and make identifications for the parents who don’t want to go in.”
Lynch and McAfee want to make sure the plans are seen through. The pair said the time is now to do everything possible in order to make the city safe.
“We have to all come to the table before the end of this year and really talk about what is it that we can do to make Benton Harbor bigger, brighter and better,” said Lynch.
Lynch and McAfee hope to meet with Benton Harbor police in the near future to learn about the most efficient ways the pair can help assist in the community.
Lynch said a forum will likely be held in the coming weeks to hear feedback from residents about is needed in the community.
The pair hope to have a plan set by 2020.