Peacemakers Coalition of Pastors ask for funding for peace

Updated: Jun. 6, 2021 at 6:44 AM CDT
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BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WBRC) - While Birmingham pastors talked about their efforts to curb gun violence in communities of color Saturday afternoon, gunfire erupted.

“That we have sufficient amount of money to do what is needed. *Gunshots* to bring our communities up,” Dr. Gregory L. Clarke Pastor New Hope Baptist Church said.

“Them gunshots you heard, those were not gunshots from a senior citizen,” Dr. Tommy L. Lewis pastor of Bethel Baptist Church said.

The Peacemakers Coalition of Pastors are applying for a portion of the trillion dollar American Rescue Plan Act of 2021, which was passed by Congress in March.

“We have united ourselves. We’re regimented. We’re working together for the betterment of our communities,” said Pastor Harold W. Bass of Olivet Monumental Baptist Church.

The ARP has allocated more than $148 million to the City of Birmingham;  Jefferson County was allocated more than $127 million.

The pastors said they needed $29 million of the money to help make a difference.

“Reduce crime and gun violence in our cities, and then we’re talking about wrap around services that are needed in both health and social services that are needed in our community that we can provide through our churches and non-profits,” Dr. Clarke said.

It’s work the group says they’ve been putting in for years.

“We’ve got to expand our outreach,” Lewis added

The ARP has no specific designations for funding services to reduce gun violence but it is relief for communities impacted by COVID-19.

The pastors said communities of color have been largely impacted by COVID-19, medically and economically, which has contributed to an increase in crime.

“Education is key. Not only expanding our programs but also starting new programs that would cause our young men and women to become gainfully employed, knowledgeable about the area, sensitive about who they are as a people, and create that love factor and bring about a change in our community,” said Bass.

The group plans to apply for the funds through the city and county. Birmingham announced a call for ideas on how to spend the ARP money.

The deadline for all submissions is June 30, 2021.

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