Local pastors meet with St. Louis city, county police chiefs

ST. LOUIS – Homicides, carjackings, and assaults. Those are the three dilemmas plaguing St. Louis city and county.

Sadly, they are dimming a light that could shine so bright.

“When you talk about crime, gun violence, high unemployment that’s a common crisis,” said James Clark, vice president of Better Family Life. “So it’s time for us to understand that gives us common ground.”

Better Family Life has several outreach programs in place like the gun violence de-escalation centers. But Clark says it’s going to take more than just its programs and police officers to bring forth change.

“We’ve put the brunt of the responsibility on the police and I think that social service organizations have been pulled in, but now it’s a call for the collective church,” Clark said.

They’re calling it “Pulpit to Porches.” More than 60 clergy members, alongside the police chiefs in St. Louis City and St. Louis County, joined Thursday to address criminal activity in the region.

The effort comes after St. Louis Metropolitan Police Chief John Hayden’s deadliest month since becoming taking the leadership role and St. Louis County Police Chief Jon Belmar’s issues with the county’s opioid abuse. The two chiefs are calling on clergy to become a bigger force in neighborhoods that house their places of worship.

Pastors of churches throughout the St. Louis region got the chance to ask tough questions and figure out a way to combine both the church and the police mission to effectively change the community.

Because one thing is for sure, it’s going to take more than just one person or one institution to remove the dark cloud on a bright city.