By Pastor Phyllis Scott Six years ago a group of Pastors, clergy, and community activists gathered in front of Brookdale Recreational Center to bring awareness to the violence in Oakland and the surrounding communities. Their rallying call was “Let Peace Prevail not only in Oakland but on the earth!” In a ceremony that resembled a Native American observance, they lifted a peace pole to signify their call for peace.. Now, some six years later, another group of clergy known as the “First Responders Chaplains of Oakland” gathered around the same peace pole, standing united in their plea to “Let Peace Have a Chance!” The First Responders Chaplains are also a part of the Pastors of Oakland . They are concerned that Oakland seems to be in the grips of many senseless acts of violence. Pastor Ronald Brigette said, “There is no peace to be found for the slain victims but their voices can be heard from the graves shouting, ‘Give Peace a Chance’ because we’ve tried everything else and to the detriment of so many young people that have fallen to random acts of violence, leaving their families and communities in so much pain, and confusion, grief and heartache. There are so many mothers burying their children.” Pastor Donald Scurry, who is the Chairperson of the First responders Chaplaincy Services, stated that, “It is our strong belief that the clergy and their congregations in the neighborhoods have the ability to help prevent crime, by fostering personal responsibilities with our communities in the city of Oakland. First Responders Chaplains of Oakland are here to respond to the neighborhood personal incidents, we offer prayer and listen to concerns of the neighborhood community members.” Pastor Scurry says they want to establish a working relationship with such programs as Neighborhood Crime Prevention Councils (N.C.P.C.), Neighborhood watch, City Council Neighborhood Initiative targeting Sobrante Park in East Oakland, the Hoover District in West Oakland, National Night Out America’s Night Against Crime and many others. “We want this summer to be a healthy summer for our children, and communities, rather than seeing our children gathered around caskets saying good bye to their love ones who have been struck down by senseless violence, we should encourage more healthy activities. Many of these activities can also, be found at your local churches, as many churches have vacation bible school, as well as other fun activates designed especially for our youth’s and families, why not this summer “give peace a chance”.
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