05/10/09 — Stop the Funeral Initiative coincides with murder trial

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Stop the Funeral Initiative coincides with murder trial

By Nick Hiltunen
Published in News on May 10, 2009 2:00 AM

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The Rev. Reginald Longcrier delivers the message at Greenleaf Christian Church on Saturday.

Almost exactly two years ago, Kelvin Buffaloe was arrested and charged with shooting a young woman to death at her boyfriend's funeral.

On Saturday, a group that formed on the wave of emotion that followed the death of Sharon Sheppard met once again, still determined, they said, to stop the violence that has taken the lives of so many young people in Goldsboro and Wayne County.

Members of nearly a dozen churches gathered to share prayers and song in program called "Unity in the Community Unity Revival, An Epic Call." The program was one of many in a series sponsored by a group called the Stop the Funeral Initiative.

The timing of the event -- just two days before Buffaloe's trial is scheduled to begin -- was apparently coincidental.

"Covenant partners" of the Stop the Funeral Initiative, including the Rev. William J. Barber, president of the state NAACP, said they were unaware that Buffaloe would be in court Monday.

The program began on Friday night, when Rev. Mickael Stephens, the pastor of Christian Life MB Church, spoke, along with motivational speaker Alex Miller.

On Saturday morning, the Rev. Reginald Longcrier, who founded Exodus Homes in Hickory, spoke.

Longcrier is the chief executive officer of Exodus Homes, which "provides transitional and support services for ex-offenders.

Longcrier told an audience at Greenleaf Christian Church, Barber's home church, that he had overcome a criminal history to perform God's work.

Barber said although gatherings like this one are often preaching to the choir, they help members of the Stop the Funeral Initiative to remember their purpose.

"We're not here to preach. Everybody needs to pray, and pray on your area, because you have an assignment to pray in the area. We want to be like a laser, like targeted weapons."

On Monday, Buffaloe is expected to be in court to face a charge of first-degree murder.

Buffaloe allegedly took the life of Ms. Sheppard, 28, who was attending the funeral of her boyfriend, Raheim Kornegay, 23. The couple shared a son. People familiar with the case called the death a "retribution" killing.

Barber told the audience that their efforts could help stop future violence and needless deaths.

"We say, 'That's me, believing in the name of Jesus, that I can touch the casket, and stop the funerals,'" Barber said.