Pastors' Plan to Curb Crime

A growing number of pastors in Meridian are banding together in an effort to help curb crime. Last week several of them met with Mayor Cheri Barry about the issue.

A representative from the group is now talking publicly about some of the group's plans.

The Rev. Odell Hopkins serves as pastor of West Mt. Moriah Baptist Church. He's also a member of the Interdenominational Ministerial Alliance, a group of primarily African American ministers, who do community service projects in Meridian, such as distributing toys at Christmas.

This year, members of the alliance and other ministers from the city are coming together in hopes of helping curb crime.

"Everybody needs to do what they're an expert at," says Hopkins. "I'm not deputized to be a policeman, so I don't need to get in the police business. I'm not a lawyer. I don't need to try to get into representing anybody. I need to do what I do and do that well."

Through ministering to people, Hopkins says he and other members of the clergy are renewing their focus on not only meeting the spiritual needs, but also the emotional and physical needs of people.

Many churches in Meridian already have community outreach programs in place. Hopkins says some of these congregations are now looking at ways to combine their efforts in hopes of being even more effective.

"Let's say the East End and Redline Districts, all the areas of town, whatever is available in those districts needs to be highlighted and utilized to bring people in. If we can work from a community based mindset, I promise you we can do a better job," says Hopkins.

He also stresses that these outreach efforts span across racial and denominational lines, and that the ministers involved reflect this.

"If I don't feel secure in going to the mall, I'm affected. If I don't feel secure in my home, whether I'm in north Meridian or southside, I'm affected. It affects everybody," says Hopkins.

At this time there's no official word on when some of the combined efforts will take effect.