Springfield churches bring city's violence to the forefront - WLOX.com - The News for South Mississippi

Springfield churches bring city's violence to the forefront

SPRINGFIELD, MA (WSHM) -

Following a span of violence that saw three murders in nine days, city church leaders have begun to ramp up their efforts to bring the killings to an end.

Archbishop Timothy Paul addressed members of his church, the Basilica of the Holy Apostles, on Sunday morning, just days after he announced that the Springfield members of the Council of Churches of Western Mass will begin a new program to help tackle violence in the city.

"It's important that the church takes a stand, that we have a presence and that we hold all of those responsible to keep order to do just that," said Linda Henderson, a minister at the Basilica.

As a Springfield resident, Henderson said the proposed Eyes on the Street plan is necessary to bring calm to the city.

"People going to work, children going to church, the leisure time, there is a lot going on in Springfield and it's hard to think, 'How do I enjoy the place that I live when I'm living in fear?'" said Henderson.

"It's scary because I live in part of the city that's deep into the violence," said Alan Smith Sr.

Smith has attended the Basilica for the past six years.

Having spent part of his life involved in violence, Smith told CBS 3 that he's living proof of what the church can do.

"Me, myself, I was one that was out there," Smith stated. "Once I stepped foot here, it turned my whole life around. It gave me a son and wife."

With all he has received in that time, Smith would like nothing more than to see others follow in his footsteps.

"I see what all of the guns and violence is doing out there," said Smith. "I'm glad I'm not part of it anymore. I pray that all of the brothers and sisters that is involved with it get a hand on God and just let go."

The Council of Churches will launch their Eyes on the Street initiative on Monday night during a city-wide prayer service.

It will take place at the CCNJ church, located at 124 Sumner Ave.

The event begins at 6:30 p.m.

Copyright 2014 WSHM (Meredith Corporation). All rights reserved.

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