An estimated 700 people died from gun violence in Chicago in 1999. And the onslaught continues: "Four young people were killed by gun violence in my community in the same weekend in June," says Peter Negron, pastor of Pure In Heart Church in Chicago's Logan Square. Urban pastors are rallying to end gun violence in Chicago through two pioneering efforts, the Chicago Project and the Surefire Project. The Chicago Project for Violence Prevention was created by Gary Slutkin, a public-health professor at the University of Illinois. Slutkin was inspired by Operation Ceasefire, a program that helped reduce the homicide rate in Boston by 64 percent from 1995 to 1998. The Boston project had three components: involvement of neighborhood leaders, intensive outreach to violence-prone youth, and a renewed commitment from police and prosecutors to focus on shooting incidents. One year ago, the Chicago Project received a significant boost when Francis Cardinal George of Chicago organized a meeting of religious leaders to sign a Covenant for Peace. The leaders pledged to "tolerate no more shootings" and to "preach for peace." More than 125 religious leaders have now signed on. By mentoring young men and mediating conflicts, pastors have helped lower the incidence and intensity of violence. They have opened their church buildings to gang-intervention programs, worked with police to respond to chronic troublemakers, and organized neighborhood demonstrations against gun violence. In Chicago's 11th Police District, Baptist pastor Marshall Hatch works alongside state Rep. Coy Pugh, Congressman Danny Davis, and police Commander Dana Starks on a Ceasefire Leadership Committee.The result? In the first three months of this year, deaths from gun violence ...

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Christianity Today
Gang Outreach: Pastors Work with Police to End Gun Violence
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September 4, 2000

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