Faith leaders highlight importance of community crime prevention

Local religious leaders are joining the effort to fight a citywide spike in crime.

Several community leaders gathered at a recent forum, &#8220Holding Crime in Check/Prayer Makes a Difference!” in South Minneapolis organized by the Third Church of Christ, Scientist in Minneapolis at 42nd Street & Xerxes Avenue.

October 2006 has been designated &#8220Criminal Justice Month” by the Greater Minneapolis Council of Churches and a variety of denominational leaders, police chiefs and judges.

Jan Bailey, spokeswoman for the Third Church of Christ, believes that everyone has an important role to play in helping to eliminate crime.

&#8220We are all part of one community. Crime in one part affects all others,” she said. &#8220When one person feels a sense of insecurity or fear, most anyone who comes in contact with that person can sense or feel that individual's mental state. Similarly, we can feel the love when we meet someone whose heart overflows with a spiritual sense of love. These ideas are basic to most communities of faith, and I think really consistently practicing these good ideas is basic to stopping crime.”

The forum's keynote speaker was Sunny Scott-Luther, a long-time Christian Science lecturer who has a rich history of civic involvement, including membership on a variety of public service boards and eight years as a voluntary police chaplain. She has become a national speaker on crime and other topics for audiences ranging from universities to correctional facilities, as well as regional TV and radio broadcasts.

Her message articulated the perspective that crime, as evil, tries to intimidate and fragment individuals and communities.  The recognition of shared good, she says, inspires, empowers and helps hold crime in check.

Minneapolis City Councilmember Don Samuels (5th Ward), who represents the city's North Side, was also in attendance. He founded the Peace Foundation in 2003, an area group that seeks to stop crime by joining organizations, congregations and corporations across the city. They annually plan a series of large-scale, community-driven, collaborative events.

The Catholic Church of Christ The King in Southwest Minneapolis has been active in the PEACE Foundation since its founding.

Parishioner Adele Della Torre said church members have been working to build relationships with communities in North Minneapolis through a variety of activities, including block parties and other neighborhood events.

Members of Christ the King have also formed a partnership with St. Phillips Church Catholic Church in North Minneapolis. They collect food for their food shelf, participate in their church events, organize fundraisers and volunteer in their outreach programs.

Scott-Luther noted that &#8220we execute criminals, build more prisons, employ motion sensors, alarm systems and place bars on windows - but yet we are not able to bring peace to our neighborhoods. Holding crime in check is the responsibility of every good neighbor.”

She urged forum participants to go back to their communities, and take action to help prevent crime.