05/02/07 — Ministers want community to talk about putting an end to violence

View Archive

Ministers want community to talk about putting an end to violence

By News-Argus Staff
Published in News on May 2, 2007 2:04 PM

They gathered at McIntyre Funeral Home -- across the street from the scene of last week's fatal shooting that claimed the life of a 28-year-old mother of four.

More than 20 black community leaders came together this morning to renounce violence in Goldsboro -- clergymen, concerned neighbors and officials from the NAACP.

The Rev. William Barber, president of the NAACP's state conference, called on local churches and elected officials to stand up against incidents like the one that saw Sharon Sheppard gunned down outside of the funeral home on George Street.

"The events that happened last week were not only violent but public, personal and penetrating to the very core of our community," he said. "We cannot allow this incident, or others, to define, confine or forever malign the future of our community."

Still, he acknowledged that violence was becoming more prevalent on the streets of Goldsboro and in others communities across the nation.

One child every three hours; eight children every day; and more than 50 children every week die from some form of gun violence -- and more than 80 Americans a day, he said.

But, he added, now is the time for action.

"As faith leaders who understand that the role of the church is not only to preach and preside over death but to speak life and transformation, we are collectively calling for a 'Stop the Funeral Revival,'" Barber said.

May 10 through May 12, the NAACP aims to educate and unify the black community through a series of events, he added -- worship, action planning and congregation that will culminate Saturday at 9 a.m. at the Goldsboro-Raleigh District Assembly headquarters on Hooks River Road.

The event will serve as the kick-off for 60 days of prayer and fasting, which he said will give way to "a series of community activities aimed at combating the atmosphere and attitude of violence."

Barber also acknowledged that the NAACP showed up outside McIntyre's to show support for a business he said has been wrongly marred by Thursday's shooting.

"We declare, under the authority of God, this ground will not be defined by one incident," he said.

Nor will Goldsboro, he added.

But the Rev. Dwight Cannon said violent crime is a part of city life and that change in the local communities was still needed to ensure a future without it.

"We can attend funerals and send our children to school and not be on lockdown," he said.

The gathering was about the future, he added -- about making the community safe for Goldsboro's children.