News from the Diocese of Southwark
Gun Crime - London Church leaders call for torch-lit walk of peace
21 Feb 2007
Hundreds of Christians unite in a prayer walk through London.
Hundreds of Christians, along with Londoners from all communities, will unite in a prayer walk through the two London boroughs blighted by recent tragic attacks.
The torch-lit walk will begin at Peckham Square with a prayer by Bishop Christopher and conclude at Windrush Square in Brixton with a blessing from Bishop Tom and the route will take in the sites of the murders in the area in the past month.
It will take place from 5pm to 7pm on February 22, the same day the Prime Minster holds a Government summit on gun crime, with ministers, police and experts.
The walk has been organised by a coalition of Black church and other Christian leaders, and there will be representation from people of other faiths and diverse communities. It is being supported by the Mayor of London's office and the Metropolitan Police Service.
Pastor Nims Obunge, of Peace Alliance, said: ’ÄúDrugs and guns are a menace to our society. ’ÄúWe all need to work together with criminal justice agencies to help vulnerable young people and keep guns off the street.’Äù
One of the leaders at the walk will be Pastor Les Isaac, Director of the Ascension Trust Street Pastors Initiative. This organises hundreds of volunteer pastors across the country, who go onto the streets to talk to young people at night.
Pastor Isaac said: ’ÄúParents have spoken to us about young people going to school wearing bullet-proof vests.
’ÄúI'm walking because there is an expectation that the church should do something ’Äì should stand with those who are mourning. They should also find a solution, a way forward to get our young people out of this quagmire.’Äù
Lee Jasper is Director of Policing for the Mayor of London's Office and Chair of the Metropolitan Police Service Operation Trident Independent Advisory Group.
He said the Mayor's Office applauds the response of Black majority churches to the spate of murders of teenagers in South London.
’ÄúThis prayer walk will demonstrate the total abhorrence of the vast majority of black Londoners to gun violence,’Äù he said.
’ÄúOur children need to see we care.
’ÄúWe must support the police tackling these crimes. We must also face the reality that we have a serious problem with a small minority of our young people. Parental and familial responsibility here is absolutely key.’Äù
Cheryl Sealey, an anti-gun campaigner and a member of the Operation Trident advisory group, said: ’ÄúAs believers, it's important for us to work and pray for peace ’Äì faith without works is dead.
’ÄúWe want as many people as possible to support the march on Thursday.’Äù
The Black Police Association works with young people and faith communities in London. Its deputy chair, Bevan Powell, said: ’ÄúThe police cannot tackle this problem alone.
’ÄúThe churches are critical partners in addressing the issues and providing a moral and positive framework for young people.’Äù