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Chad Ryan | The Journal Gazette
Pastor Demarkus Pennington preaches at the start of an emergency anti-violence gathering Friday held at Jerusalem Baptist Church on Francis Street, held in response to a series of violent shootings.

Residents called to action

Prayer, outreach urged to combat violence

– With the recent spate of shootings weighing on their minds, more than 50 people gathered Friday night at Jerusalem Baptist Church east of downtown to pray, preach and stand against violence.

“I’m worried about the city of Fort Wayne, Indiana. I’m worried because young people now do not care even about living,” Carlton Lynch told the crowd. “We’ve got to do something.”

Lynch, pastor of New Beginnings Church, organized the prayer meeting in response to a series of shootings on the south side that occurred this week and last. Over the course of eight days, gunfire killed two people and severely wounded two others.

So far this year, Fort Wayne and Allen County have tallied 33 homicides, three more than all of last year and a 15-year high. Lynch said such violence should spur everyone to become involved in combating it.

“The problem is not southeast (Fort Wayne). The problem is sin. The problem is evil,” he said.

Angela Brooks, who attended the meeting, said she came because she wants to be part of the solution. The 57-year-old said stopping the violence will require that residents unite to help children in church, in school and in the community.

“We’re just going to have to work with the kids in every aspect of the child’s life,” she said. “Wherever the kids are, that’s where we need to be.”

Lynch said rallies and marches alone won’t work to stop the bloodshed. He believes the city needs to reach out to people committing violence and bring them into the fold.

“You cannot stop crime if you don’t know any criminals,” Lynch said.

Throughout Friday’s gathering, speakers who took the podium emphasized prayer as one of the first steps to attaining peace. Cedric Walker, 47, said the city should turn to God at a time like this and pray in search of ways to reduce the violence.

“Through prayer, God will then give strategies to people who may be gifted,” Walker said. “I believe that he’ll give someone some kind of strategy, some kind of solution to curb the crime wave.”

aingersoll@jg.net

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