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After losing loved ones to violence, Flint clergy come together purposefully

Photo: Pastor Chris Martin

Written by Tanya Terry

The 26-year-old man recently shot and killed at Mega Classic Diner on Corunna Road was a former member of Pastor Chris Martin’s church. Martin is one of many Flint pastors who are playing part in a soon coming Pull Over for Prayer event, and he said he does not want to ever have a night with multiple shootings like what happened in Flint the previous Saturday when his church member and three others were shot at the local restaurant.

“I’ve been working in the community for years along with all the other pastors, and this (unfortunate incident) made it more personal for me to try to rally the men together and the women together to do something for this city so that we don’t have another night like we had last Saturday night,” Martin said.

Martin is pastor of Cathedral of Faith Ministries.

Another pastor participating in the Pull Over for Prayer event, Pastor Jeffrey Hawkins of Prince of Peace Missionary Baptist Church, lost two of his own children to gun violence. Hawkins is over the Flint Advisory Council to the police department.

At a press conference on July 30, Martin announced a four-part plan to combat and give a response to the violence that has been going on in the city. A coalition of clergy from all over Flint and Genesee County who stood together during the press conference had prior conversation about the plan, also intended to also address some of the racial and social disparities that affect the community.

The first part of the plan is set to kick off Saturday Aug. 1 at 2 p.m. During this time, Martin said pastors and community leaders will “blanket the city of Flint with prayer from the corners of Clio and Dayton to Pierson and Dupont.”

Pastors will be on various corners with parishioners to offer a pull over for prayer type engagement with anyone who needs prayer, comfort, peace and reconciliation. Mask wearing and social distancing will be practiced during this time, according to Martin.

“No one will have to leave their cars,” Martin said. “No one will have to get out. No one will have to engage physically. It will be totally contactless.”

From 2-3 p.m., there will be pastors and parishioners on 10-15 corners within the designated area, including on the corner of Pierson and Clio roads. At 3 p.m. at Hallwood Plaza, the site of six shootings the previous Saturday, all the leaders will converge to lead the city in prayer, unanimously and while still practicing social distancing.

Economic development will also be addressed on an ongoing basis, according to Martin.

“We thought it was even good to be at the North Flint Reinvestment Corp. (NFRC) where we are desperately trying to make sure that economic development opportunity and finances are able to come to those in the city of Flint that need it.”

The opening of a new grocery store is planned for the area. Martin referred to Flint as a “food desert,” saying a great grocery store is needed.

“We’ve also committed ourselves to a mentoring program.”

Many of the pastors are educators, have degrees, are social workers, psychologists and have other qualifications that will aid in mentoring. The mentoring programs will be based online or through social media to provide services to at-risk youth or young adults.

“It’s important that young people in our community understand that we do more than preach. We do more than facilitate choirs and church budgets. We want them to know that people will be serviced by us. In other words, we want to know what young people and young adults are thinking. We want to get their thoughts and their issues.”

The fourth aspect of the plan is land acquisition and land development. Martin said the land bank needed help with vacant properties, whether they knew it or not.

“As pastors we want to be a part of land acquisition so that we can use the resources and tools that we have to beautify our neighborhoods, get grass cut down, rehabilitate properties and use the God-given vision that he’s given us to redevelop our neighborhood.”

Pastor Alfred Harris Sr. of Saints of God Church and president of the Concerned Pastors for Social Action also spoke at the press conference, saying the violent events that took place the weekend before had been a wake-up call. He said prayer must be a part of the equation.

Pastor Reginald Flynn of Foss Avenue Baptist Church  told those in attendance to the press conference Mott Community College Workforce and Economic Development offers free career training in computer science, health care, automotive, skilled trades and advanced manufacturing to those ages 16-24. He said the NFRC is seeking to train and hire young people for a wide variety of positions and over 30 job opportunities are expected at the soon coming grocery store; the North Flint Food Market, which is to be community owned.

To reach Mott Community College Workforce & Economic Development, call Daphne Epps at 810-232-2512. For information on job opportunities at the North Flint Food Market, call 810-620-1974




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