ST. LOUIS (KTVI) - Mt. Beulah Missionary Baptist Church has placed more than 200 crosses in the front lawn of its church. The crosses symbolize all of the lives lost to violence in the St. Louis area this year. There have been 172 homicides in St. Louis city during the first 11 months of 2016, according to statistics from the St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department. That is 8 fewer than in 2015 but 172 too many for members of the Hanley Hills church.
“I’ve been in St. Louis for 6 years. My son’s only been here 2 years and he’s dead,” said a tearful Stephanie Ceaser. Her son Martez Ceaser was 30-years-old when he was shot and killed this year. One of the crosses was placed in the ground to remember his life.
“I’m lost for words right now because I’m still trying to handle the situation,” said Ceaser. “My heart is just really heavy right now.”
Rev. E.G. Shields is pastor of the church. He hopes the crosses will be a powerful reminder of the violence problem that needs to be addressed. He also hopes the crosses will be a source of strength for those affected by violence.
“We support you and we love you and we understand what it means to be without your loved one during the holiday season,” said Rev. Shields.
He was joined by other pastors including the pastor of Greater Mt. Carmel Missionary Baptist Church. Rev. Earl Nance hopes the crosses are a reminder to anyone driving by that every life matters.
“Because we’ve reached a point now where it doesn’t matter. You don’t even have to know anybody. You’re just running down the street shooting.”
This is the 3rd consecutive year Mt. Beulah has placed crosses in its front lawn to remember victims of violence. The crosses will remain in place through the rest of the year.