By Malcolm Morehead
Remember the time when riding bikes in the neighborhood, or even beyond, was totally safe? Many lament the fact that local youth might not ever know the peace and safety in their current surroundings that the older generation knew.
If the members of St. Paul United Methodist Church on Martin Luther King Jr. Street succeed, they will help make things safer in their part of town.
Last Saturday, Rev. Kent Brown and several members sponsored a fun day, within sight of their church. The name of their program is Faith for the Future. The purpose of food and games was to teach the community to come out and have fun again in a safe place. Using young men from St. Paul UMC in the role of mentors for the neighborhood youth, they hope to change the atmosphere in that area. Using the church’s leaders and influence, they want to give hope to the people who fear for their safety in the community.
It’s hoped that the project will serve as a model for other churches seeking to protect children from harsh influences. Rev. Brown said he now believes he has about five more churches that will come alongside his model. He is being assisted by members, Ophelia Ford and Jeffrey Young.
The plans of this one concerned church reached Dr. Andy Garrott, local dentist on Eureka Street. With his son Josh and his famous chili dog wagon, he joined forces and cooked about 100 hot dogs and served them up with add-ons and drinks. By noon, there were close to 100 people in attendance and the event was just getting started. Garrott is well aware of how to use hot dogs and games to attract youth to attend an event. The same plan works in his Honduras mission endeavor with the youth there.
Also taking notice of the aim of the event was Sheriff Dennis Darby. He said he recognized that with the help of the local population, the town reaps the benefits of their efforts to fight crime and gang influence. By becoming an influence for a safer, more peaceful street, where parents are not afraid for their children to get out of our sight, St. Paul UMC members hope other people, churches and organizations alike, will contact Brown and ask what they can do to join him or start their own movement.
Photo left: St. Paul UMC and community enjoy a 'safe place'
Photo right: Sheriff Dennis Darbyl, Ophelia Ford and Rev. Kent Brown