MIAMI, FL – To address the growing trend of gun violence and crimes against children, Congresswoman Frederica S. Wilson (FL-24) hosted the Pastors and Principals Fighting Crime through Spirituality Summit on March 3, 2017, at Jungle Island. More than 500 people, including 100 pastors, were treated to an inspirational message from National Civil Rights and Social Justice Activist Reverend Al Sharpton and House Assistant Democratic Leader Congressman James Clyburn (S.C.-6). Miami-Dade Police Department Director Juan Perez, State Attorney Katherine Fernandez-Rundle, and Pastor Carl Johnson, spiritual leader for the Miami Dade “My Brother’s Keeper” Initiative, and other community and faith leaders also addressed the audience on the urgency and ways in which they could work together to improve the lives of children.
Community activists, including members of Mothers of Murdered Children, principals, and students from schools that are most affected by gun violence, crime, and where children have been murdered were also in attendance. “We have to reign in the senseless violence that is gripping our communities,” said Congresswoman Wilson. “I am grateful that Congressman Clyburn and Rev. Sharpton issued powerful charges to our faith leaders as we transform places of worship into safe havens for our youth.”
The Pastors and Principals Fighting Crime through Spirituality Summit was the first step towards pairing schools with places of faith to ensure students have safety nets to keep them safe from danger, and deter them from committing crimes. In addition to being inducted as mentors in the 5000 Role Models of Excellence Project, faith leaders pledged to complete several initiatives. Among the commitments were the identification of male congregants to serve as mentors to boys, the transformation of church parking lots into basketball courts for students, the establishment of a weekly prayer conference call to prepare students for their upcoming school week, and the development of a character education curriculum for Sunday schools or youth ministries.
Faith leaders will also reach out to parents of children living within a one mile radius of their places of worship to engage parents in the necessity of spirituality as a component to eliminate crime in our communities. The leaders also pledged to host an annual 5000 Role Models Youth and Mentors’ Day at their places of worship on June 4, 2017.
“Addressing gun violence is not a new commitment of Congresswoman Wilson or many of the faith leaders who are present today,” said Rev. Sharpton during his keynote address. “But, there is no quick fix. We’re burying too many of our children. So, we have to work together collectively, strongly, and more diligently with the forces here today until we can bring a level of self-expectation to these young people.”
The summit concluded with remarks from keynote speaker Congressman James Clyburn, who recognized the faith leaders’ role in developing boys into wholesome men who will make great contributions to our communities. “We must still find a cure for cancer, cystic fibrosis, multiple sclerosis and other infirmities,” said Congressman Clyburn. “I sincerely believe that each of these young people, if given the right experiences, could very well grow to be the person who makes these great discoveries.”
“These are babies and their futures are being stolen by gun violence,” said Congresswoman Wilson. “It is going to take a village to keep our children safe. Our faith leaders have accepted the charge to engage in this new initiative which will use spirituality as a method to reduce crime in our communities.”