The program, Getting to the Heart of the Matter, launched Aug. 11 with more than two dozen church leaders from multiple faiths and denominations at Police Headquarters. It’s the brainchild of The Rev. Darron Edwards, pastor of United Believers Community Church.
Its mission is, “To provide a base of strong support to the community as well as Police Chief Rick Smith and the KCPD and to establish the Faith community as a bridge between these groups to enhance trust, communication and cooperation.”
Getting to the Heart of the Matter aims to reduce violence through many means. The program will:
- Partner with KCPD chaplains, social workers, community interaction and crime free multi-housing officers as additional resources, and aid in responding to the impact of trauma as a physical and emotional reality on the lives of young people and their families as a direct result of violence.
- Build meaningful relationships with high-risk youth.
- Focus on connecting, educating, and rebuilding the lives of youth who have been stigmatized by mainstream society, been incarcerated or have incarcerated parents by adopting neighborhood schools.
- Identify the unique systemic challenges within each neighborhood as identified by the KCPD divisions and prioritize those issues.
- Provide gang mediation and conflict resolution for high-risk youth with the goal of establishing cease-fires and building the foundation for active peace.
- Establish accountable, community-based economic development projects and teach financial literacy.
- Build partnerships with the social/secular/non-profit institutions of our city, along with like-minded communities of faith to help provide spiritual, human, and material support.
- Receive advocacy training as well as provide ongoing identified training in order to create, maintain, and sustain community mobilization.
- Provide job referrals to KCPD.
The Rev. Ronald Lindsay of Concord Fortress of Hope Church and The Rev. Emanuel Cleaver III of St. James United Methodist Church joined Rev. Edwards in developing Getting to the Heart of the Matter.
“Most faith communities have connections to their neighborhoods, even if the people living there don’t attend that church,” Cleaver said. “..Working with KCPD makes it where we can identify and address some of those things that need attention.”