On the birthday of Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. clergy liason, Reverend Kevin Jones, facilitated a dialogue with fifty pastors from Crown Heights about the clergy’s role in decreasing violence in the neighborhood, to kick off S.O.S.C.A.N., the S.O.S. Clergy Action Network.

After S.O.S. violence interrupters described their work to the clergy, the floor was open to discussion. Clergy affirmed their commitment to open their doors to young people in the neighborhood, to provide mentorship and counseling, art programs, and sports and recreation.

The discussion which followed two S.O.S. worker’s stories regarding their street work was intense and the dialogue thoughtful. Faith Based Leaders and their representatives left with a better understanding of the violence and the alienation that youth experience in the neighborhood. They passionately voiced deepened commitment to making the community safer and healthier, and looking towards a brighter future for our youth.

Some of the suggestions that were spoken about were:

• One gang told a group of clergy that since afterschool programs, summer youth employment, and recreational centers were closed and scaled back they had nothing to do and nowhere to go so they congregated in a local family park and became a gang. They asked for places to go. We need to open up our churches with organized activities.
• Getting our congregations involved with the District Attorney’s YCP (Youth and Congregations in Partnership) program.
• Opening up congregants to foster parenting and adoption.
• Leadership training and development of faith-based institutions.
• One pastor has a summer basketball league but no building to house it. We need to find a space for his league.
• Youth workshops on Arts and Technology.
• Having parenting classes and educational workshops.
• Job readiness training for our youth.

The dialogue, while passionate and heartfelt, was only the beginning of the work the Clergy Action Network will do together. On Saturday, February 18th, we will be coming back to the table. We need you to meet us from 9-11 AM to put together some action steps. Save the date!

Please see the Clergy Action Network page above for more details.