Christians rally to stand against violent crime
Following the continued social issue of knife crime and its devastating consequences British churches, Christian charities and voluntary organisations are working jointly to host Standing Together, a public rally against knife crime and youth violence in Trafalgar Square on April 6.
This rally has been initiated by the Ascension Trust, the organisation that launched Street Pastors in 2003. Other organisations that have pledged their support for the Standing Together rally are London City Mission, Churches Together in Britain and Ireland and the Anglican Diocese of Southwark.
Rev Les Isaac, CEO for the Ascension Trust commented, "Like most of the country, Britain's Christian community have been greatly concerned and impacted by the knife crime and youth violence that is becoming a common occurrence in London and urban areas. Just last month five people got stabbed in the course of 24 hours.
"The Church wants to send a strong message which demonstrates that we are concerned about this issue, that we are here to support victims, and that we want to continue playing a role of being part of the solution."
Ascension Trust has been at the forefront of implementing solutions to the issue of knife crime, youth violence and gangs in Britain's urban areas. The Ascension Trust runs a number of initiatives which includes Street Pastors, School Pastors and last year they launched the Synergy Network, a coalition which represents charities, churches and voluntary organisations working together to reduce knife crime and youth violence.
During the course of the rally, people will hear about valuable and effective youth work that organisations and churches are doing, as well as hear from victims of knife crime and church leaders.
Partnering organisations shared their reasons for supporting Standing Together.
Graham Miller, Chief Executive of London City Mission stated: "We cry out for justice, but find bloodshed. The Church has a message of hope for those affected by this needless violence, as we reach out in love. The London City Mission serve communities affected by the tragic deaths of young people as a result of knife-crime. We've seen the impact first hand and have sat with families as they grieve.
“We go into schools with Operation Forgiveness, to share the story of a family who were devastated by the murder of their teenage son and brother, but who through the forgiveness of Jesus, have been able to forgive those who killed him. We pray for our communities and bind up wounds of the broken hearted with the Christian hope we know in Jesus."
Bob Fyffe, General Secretary of Churches Together in Britain and Ireland said: "The recent spike in youth-related violent crime has rightly gained media and political attention. However, we must recognise that these appalling activities have been ruining lives for decades, and this ground-breaking day of prayer and action allows our numerous member churches to stand alongside all those affected by violent crime.
“We are also encouraging our churches, who come from the various Christian traditions and Church denominations in Britain and Ireland, to use this day to either begin their engagement, or redouble their efforts, in combating serious youth violence. We know that our churches have so much to offer in terms of prayer, expertise, volunteers and resources such as buildings and equipment, and this event is a perfect occasion to put their faith in action.'
The Rt Revd Christopher Chessun, Bishop of Southwark says: "In the Diocese of Southwark we are committed to prioritising the needs of young people and their families and to peace and reconciliation in our communities. Serious youth violence has sadly become a tragic feature of the work of many who minister in urban areas, as they respond to the needs of local young people and their families. This rally will enable us to come together for prayer and action".
Rev Isaac hopes that the rally will leave people uplifted and hopeful that if the relevant organisations continue to work with disaffected youth, in ten years' time, knife crime murders and gang numbers will be greatly reduced.