Monday, December 31, 2007

2008 Peoria Gun Exchange On The Horizon

The Peoria Assn. Of Pastors is planning the 2008 Peoria Gun Exchange event for sometime early Spring of 2008. This may be the first of 2 events but the Pastors will make their final decisions after the new year.

There will be some modifications to the 2008 event. The 2007 event went well but ran into some administrative problems due to funding, business participation, and retail gift card provider issues.

Possible modifications may include following:
  • For 2008, provide a $100 Visa or MasterCard Debit card in exchange for a qualifying weapon. In 2007 the assn. provided retail cards from individual merchants. This was restrictive for many exchange participants who wised to use the cards for multiple purposes. With the help of Rev. Mr. Vance Henry, Special Asst. to the Chicago Mayor, Peoria will be able to change the way that benefits are delivered to the participants.
  • There will also be a greater fund raising efforts to provide the necessary cash for the complete exchange this year. Last year there were 15 IOU’s issued during the last event. There are yet 5 IOU’s that must be paid out and many of the businesses curtailed support until 2008. The Pastor’s Assn. wants to make sure this time that every participant is able to receive a gift for a qualifying weapon, so fundraising for 2008 is essential.
The Assn. is open to public and community ideas for fundraising and solicits the participation and support of both businesses and individuals. If you or your business would like to help in the fund raising efforts for 2008 or you would like to be a contributor and sponsor, please call, email or contact us in the following manner:

  • Peoria Assn. Of Pastors
    P.O. Box 6167
    Peoria, IL. 61601
    (309)688-6599 New Bethel COGIC
    (309)655-0500 Kingdom Temple COGIC
    (309)673-9594 Higher Dimensions Praise & Worship

Peoria Journal Star Recognizes Peoria Gun Exchange As 2007 Top Story

On Sunday Dec. 30th 2007 the Peoria Journal Star recognized the Peoria Assn. Of Pastors for Community & Spiritual renewal’s 2007 Gun Exchange as the 7th out of the areas top 10 news events of the year.

The gun exchange event was also recognized in conjunction with the Peoria Mayor’s request for the community to engage themselves in prayer in order to spiritually combat the antagonists that facilitate violent crime and other behaviors harmful to our community.

We give our special thanks to the Peoria Journal Star for helping to spread the word about the Gun Exchanges and for accurately conveying the Peoria Assn. of Pastor’s role in helping to serve our community. We feel that the best is yet to come.

2007 Image Award Recipient

The Peoria Assn. Of Pastors For Community & Spiritual Renewal were one of the proud recipients of the 2007 Sigma Image Award provided annually by the Epsilon ETA Sigma Chapter of the Sigma Gamma Rho Sorority, Inc. to organizations and individuals who have impacted the area in a positive manner through unselfish service to the Peoria Community.

The award was received by Pastors Assn. Exec. Director Pastor Harvey Burnett on Nov. 11th 2007 at Sigma’s 18th annual Scholarship Banquet dinner held at the Peoria hotel Pere Marquette.
Pastor Burnett cited the following in his acceptance speech:
  • "Although we are not finished with our mission by any means, we are pleased that our community is now experiencing seemingly all time highs for volunteer and community service, and a desire for prayer through grass roots efforts such as the Peoria Prayer Furnace and the Peoria transformation Celebrations. Now, even our Mayor has confirmed the need for the Christian community to involve themselves in unified prayer and fellowship"~ 11/18/2007

Special thanks to Ms. Tamara Butler and everyone that recognized our efforts and made this award possible.

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Gun Exchange Success & Looking Forward

The Peoria Gun Exchange has set a new community record for the collection of guns and other weapons. During the final exchange of the year held on Saturday Nov. 3rd the Peoria Assn. Of Pastors collected 69 weapons and issued 15 IOU’s for gift certificates.

This brings the 2007 totals to approximately 123 weapons. In addition, the Assn. has been responsible for distributing over $8,500 in gift cards and certificates. This figure not only represents a benefit to the participants of the exchange but also a benefit to the entire community.

What we discovered during the exchange:

There were a number of things uncovered during the exchange that neither the Pastors, police or the community expected.
  • First, the Pastors were of service to the elderly in the community by helping to make their homes safer and relieve them from what many of them viewed as potentially dangerous weapons and situations.
  • Secondly, we were of service to families with small children. Once again it was discovered that many mothers and fathers were anxious to make their environments safer by turning in unwanted weapons. We were unable to determine how many individuals made their environments safer by checking the security of the weapons in their homes, but we received many favorable commentaries from individuals who did so.
  • Finally, many individuals just needed a little encouragement both spiritually, mentally and physically. The combination of prayer and a monetary gift in exchange for a weapon was an unbeatable combination.
As compared to other communities:

The Peoria Gun Exchange was intended to minister to individuals spiritually and was limited in focus. Our emphasis was on handguns and the potential problems that handguns pose to the community. The Springfield and Chicago Illinois gun exchanges were dynamic and yielded more sheer numbers but their efforts were not as targeted. We turned away many individuals with long guns and other types of weapons that were not in our target.

Notwithstanding, we are very excited about how the City Council and Mayor’s office in both Chicago and Springfield got behind their exchange efforts. The Springfield, IL. Mayor led their effort and the City contributed $15,000 without reluctance. Chicago contributed a highly significant amount of money toward theirs. In slight contrast, the City of Peoria gave $2,500 toward the Peoria effort. In all fairness, various council members gave personally toward the effort. In all, we are thankful for EVERYONE that contributed, great or small, in whatever amount they were able to.

To The Critic

First of all, crime didn’t rise in anticipation of either of our events and the weapons we took in were functional.
In addition, we simply suggest that an ounce of prevention is certainly worth a pound of cure. Our investment to curb violence may save countless lives, to which there is no dollar amount for replacement. So far as using tax dollars to fund this sort of program, the current estimate is that it takes over $30,000 annually to house a prisoner in the Illinois prison system. THESE ARE TAX DOLLARS spent at a much greater amount than either community invested in their programs. If one person is kept out of prison for 5 years, the program has more than paid for itself.

Looking Forward

We are looking forward to the 2008 Peoria Gun Exchange. Although we are developing changes in the program and the event dates, we are actively seeking sponsors and community involvement. Next years event will probably feature a debit/credit gift card as opposed to an individuals retailers card so that participants can spend money at the retailer of their choice.

Individuals and businesses wishing to be a part of this ongoing effort to bring peace and harmony to the community can contribute to the Pastors Assn. in the following manner:

Mail Contributions any amount to:
  • New Bethel/Pastors Assn.
    PO Box 6167
    Peoria, IL. 61601-6167
  • Memo: Gun Exchange
All contributions will be acknowledged by charitable receipt.

Monday, October 29, 2007

Final 2007 Gun Exchange Event

The Peoria Assn. Of Pastors For Community & Spiritual Renewal will conduct its 4th and final gun exchange event for 2007 at the following location:
  • Higher Dimensions Praise & Worship Church
    2610 W. Nebraska
    Peoria, IL. 61604
    Hours: 10:00Am – 2:00PM
    Volunteer Orientation Training: 9:00 AM
The 2008 Peoria Gun Exchange event is currently being planned for Spring or early Summer 2008. We are encouraging and seeking community partnerships throughout the Central Illinois individual and business community. We highly encourage community donations to help financially support current and future events. All contributions received for the gun exchange will go toward one or all Gun Exchange events.
Contributions can be sent in care of:
  • New Bethel/Pastors Assn.
    PO Box 6167
    Peoria, IL. 61601
For information on becoming an association Gun Exchange Partner Sponsor, please email or EVERY DONATION AND CONTRIBUTION IS GREATLY APPRECIATED AND HIGHLY VALUED!

For more information on this event or other Pastors Assn. sponsored events, please call the New Bethel administration office at (309)688-6599 or Mrs. Shelfraa Johnson at St. Paul Baptist Church at (309)686-2086.

Monday, October 22, 2007

Student Tickets- The Focus Of The City

As the Pastor’s Assn. moves forward there are many areas of concern that we share. One such concern is for the Children that have been ticketed for J-walking at both Manual and Woodruff High Schools. Although we share many of the sentiments of the NAACP and the Dr. King King Holiday Cmte., we share those sentiments for vastly different reasons. We will set forth a clear record in this blog so that the public will not confuse our motivations with other community organizations.

On Sept. 28 2007 the Peoria Police Dept. engaged in an operation to address community disturbances in both the aforementioned High School areas. This was the first phase of a multi-phase operation. The result was 32 J-walking tickets issued to various students with the youngest student being 11 years old. Although tickets were issued for individuals obstructing traffic, there were eye-witness accounts that many students were not in violation of the ordinance, and were merely crossing the street.

Immediately, without investigation or further commentary, or even consideration for community organizations such as The Peoria Assn. of Pastors, who had successfully began dialogue on the subject of community harmony through the Peoria Gun Exchange; cries of racism spawned from the NAACP and the King Holiday Cmte. The Peoria Assn. Of Pastors distanced itself from those accusations through it’s release to the Peoria Journal Star found at the following link:

Although racism exists within Peoria, The Peoria Assn. Of Pastors For Community & Spiritual Renewal do not believe that unfounded racial allegations should be used as a tool for social negotiations or for political gain. We further believe that unfounded allegations only further serve to divide and polarize the community and are a disservice to the goal of overall community harmony and peace. We feel that the best way to discover and dispose of racism is through honest, open and clear dialogue, and setting forth clear action plans to address the issues.

On Oct. 22nd 2007, there was a meeting between the Mr. Randy Oliver (City Manager), Police Chief Settingsgaard, Pastor Harvey Burnett, Dr. Rita Ali (The Dr. King Holiday Cmte.), Mr. Don Jackson (NAACP), and Mr. Clyde Gulley (1st Dist. Councilman) and certain other community leaders.
After much discussion, Pastor Burnett set forth the following ideas:

  • 1- The tickets written to the youth should be reduced to warnings with stipulations
    That this is a one time reduction and special exception
    Police Authority has not been undermined or circumvented.
    That the NAACP and the King Holiday Cmte. withdraw their allegations of racism
  • 2- That a community dialogue with the police should continue as to include certain designated representatives of the NAACP and the King Holiday Cmte. The reason we say "continue" is that a dialogue with the Police HAD ALREADY begun at the hand and request of the Peoria Assn. Of Pastors.
Tuesday Oct. 23rd 2007 a press conference has been scheduled at 1:00 PM at the Peoria Police Dept. During this event a formal announcement will be made that the ticket reduction recommendation has been accepted with the following stipulations:

  • This is a One Time Reduction.
  • The parents of each ticketed student will be notified and required to sign off .
  • The students will be required to attend a seminar on community and social responsibility
  • The community dialogue would continue as stated previously.

The NAACP however refused to withdraw it’s allegations of racial profiling and discrimination when challenged by Pastor Burnett. Because of their refusal, we do not believe that the allegation of racism or the failure to withdraw those allegations until full discussions have been concluded are a good faith effort by both the King Holiday Cmte. or the NAACP.

Special Note:

Racial polarization is not healthy for any facet of the Peoria community and is not a strategy that the Peoria Assn. Of Pastors endorses in resolving community disputes. Honest, open and candid discussion and relationship building is the way that we choose to fight racism at all levels. If diplomacy fails, public steps should be made to disclose all manner of evil, wrong and racism. Until then, the community is better served by leaders who ask questions first, make judgements secondly and who set forth strategies for sustained change.

Therefore we call and continue to pray for full racial reconciliation and a new strategy going forward as we begin a new day of black leadership with the Peoria community.

Even so come Lord Jesus!

Peoria Gun Exchange # 3 Another Great Success

Once again, the Peoria Assn. Of Pastors For Community & Spiritual Renewal has had another successful gun exchange event. 13 guns and weapons were delivered for exchange. The total number of weapons turned in during the exchange so far has been approximately 54.

This week the following items were exchanged:
  • A 9 MM handgun, estimated by experts on the scene, to be worth approximately $800.00. If this gun were stolen property, it will soon be returned to its owner.
  • A sawed off, pump shot gun, perfect length to be concealed under a long coat during the holiday season this winter, and in perfect operating condition.

We have heard testimonies from various individuals who have told us that they were glad that we were there for them and our community during this event. We are glad for the relationships that have been made both with Police and individuals in the community.

Looking Ahead:

The Peoria Assn. Of Pastors will decide this week if another gun exchange event is in order. We will announce our plans both to the media and post additional details on this blog. We will also consider what the 2008 Peoria Gun Exchange will look like. Please stay tuned for further information and details. We are encouraged in the name of the Lord.

Monday, October 8, 2007

Peoria Gun Exchange # 2 Another Great Success

The Peoria Assn. Of Pastors For Community and Spiritual Renewal thanks God for another great gun exchange event. On Saturday Oct. 6th 2007 our assn. exchanged 18 weapons for gift certificates and vouchers including a sawed off shotgun and ammunition that the police was very glad to relieve the community of. ALL weapons were functional and of very high quality.

In all, both gun exchange events have netted over 41 guns and paid almost $4,000 in incentives.

The event was hosted by the St. Paul Baptist Church of Peoria. Their staff did a tremendous job in helping serve the exchange participants.

Some Of The Highlights:

  • A family who has observed a certain group of individuals use a sawed off shotgun at various times for suspected criminal activity, gained the courage to take matters in their own hands, found the hiding place of the weapon, (which had been stored outside) and brought it to the exchange for a $100 Walmart gift card that the family plans to use to assist with food and clothing purchases for their children.
  • Although we generally don’t compensate for long weapons, in a rare instance, the police suggested that we provide an incentive for an individual who brought in 2 shot guns that were in excellent condition. The individual feared that someone would steal and misuse the weapons. The officers processing the weapon stated that he had lifted 2 of the same type of shotguns in a bust just a couple of months ago. (Here In Peoria) From what the officer said, the current trend involves modifying the weapon buy sawing it off, so that it can be better concealed and used in more threatening ways. Once again, the pastors Assn. was glad to be there.

Next Gun Exchange Event Date & Location:

  • Resurrection Power Church Of God In Christ
    2500 N.E. Madison Peoria, IL. 61603
    (309)685-8613 or
    Saturday Oct. 20th 2007
    Time: 10:00 AM to 2:00 PM
    Volunteer Orientation: 9:00 AM (10/20/07) at Resurrection Power COGIC

Donations and Contributions:

  • Send TO: New Bethel Ministries
    Payable to:
    New Bethel/Pastor’s Assn.
    P.O. Box 6167
    Peoria, IL. 61601
    Memo: Gun Exchange

Any amount will be greatly appreciated and all gifts receive a charitable receipt for the allowable portion of the gift received.

Special Word On The Incentive Debate:

Some have questioned the motivations of individuals exchanging guns solely because of the $100 incentive. First of all, some individuals have exchanged guns freely and would not accept a gift. Secondly, although we realize that there may be some who abuse the opportunity, we feel that the incentive offered is a positive both for the individual and our community.
For many in our target group of individuals (which have participated in this program) an incentive is necessary for them to act or move in the right direction. Taking control of one’s environment requires courage and we are glad to reward individuals for courage as it pertains to helping to make their environment and our community a better one.

Society Often Rewards Less Courageous Acts:

Here is an example: It is a known fact that in many instances, individuals and businesses measure their charitable contributions based on the amount of tax deductions they nominally receive in exchange for their gifts. In these cases, are tax-deductible gifts or the givers motivations called into question or deemed any less valid because of the incentives afforded through the tax code? Obviously NOT!

Therefore, to criticize gun exchange participants who may not have had the courage or opportunity to show up otherwise is unfair and highly unreasonable at best. The Peoria community could provide no more effective incentive than in finding a way to motivate ordinary people to take control of their environments and help them make their neighborhoods better and more safe.

A Closing Note:

Tuesday evening Oct. 9th, the Peoria City Council will decide if this effort is worth the City’s financial participation. Although the City Police Dept. has gone above and beyond the call of duty for and with us, the City Govt. somehow stalled our original request since Aug. 13th 2007.

It is promising that we have not received ANY negative feedback from any council members regarding this event and further there are council persons that have said that they want the City to be involved, however it will be well worth noting how they position themselves on this issue both individually and as a body.

Let’s watch how this one plays out.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

The Peoria Gun Exchange A Great Success

Thank God for a wonderful and favorable Gun Exchange event. The gun exchange supplied individuals with valued resources, renewed hope, and extended an new set of relationships and prayer partners to community members who previously didn’t know each other. There were over 21 $100 gift cards delivered and over 23 guns taken in or exchanged.

Due to the community dialogue that has occurred, the program was already considered a success before one gun was exchanged, but the sheer numbers and participation far exceeded the expectation of many. There were an approximate 15 additional individuals turned away. So far there has been a series of calls from individuals wishing to participate in future events and relieve their environments of unwanted guns.

Due to the favorable and overwhelming response the exchange scheduled for Saturday Sept. 29th has been rescheduled. The next event will be as follows:

  • Saturday Oct. 6th 2007
    Location: St. Paul Baptist Church 603 W. Nebraska Peoria, IL. 61604 (309)686-2086
    Time: 10:00Am to 2:00 PM (or while supplies last)
  • Volunteer Training 9:00AM 10/6/07 St. Paul Baptist Church.
We continue to solicit private donations from any business or individual willing to contribute toward this effort. Donations can be received either personally by calling any of the Pastors listed on this page or mailed to the following address:
  • New Bethel/Pastors Assn.
    PO Box 6167
    Peoria, IL. 61601
    Payable to New Bethel/Pastors Assn.
    Memo: Gun Exchange

We wish to thank all businesses, individuals and organizations that have contributed toward this exchange. In addition to the churches of the association, the following is a listing of businesses and individuals that have supported our efforts as of 10/3/2007:

  • DECA Realty
  • Dunamis Insurance & Business Services
  • Illinois Mutual
  • Hardin Signs
  • Citizens For Community Values
  • The Heights Bank
  • The Peoria Palace Skating Rink
  • Agape Baptist Church
  • 5th Avenue Fashions
  • MacDonald Shell Gas Stations
  • Walmart Peoria (University Peoria)
  • South Side Bank Peoria
  • Robert O. Kaiser CPA
  • Mr. Everett Fritz JD
  • Rev. Linda Butler
  • Young Visionaries Scholarship Fund
  • W.E. Turner- Peoria City Council At Large Rep.
  • Citizens For Ardis
  • Alwan & Sons Inc.
  • Falcon Inc.
  • Brewers Distribution
  • Honda World Of Peoria
  • D. Joseph & Sons Assoc. Real Estate
  • Friends Of Ray LaHood
  • Mr. Darrin LaHood JD
  • City Of Peoria
  • Peterson Health Systems
  • The Draves Family

Your gifts were used to assist people who were in need and were willing to participate. They helped:

  • A man who admittedly had trouble in the past and a criminal background, but who has committed to serving his family and working full time. He needed money for gas to make it to work. He received a $100 Shell Gas card in exchange for a weapon that someone had used to try to kill him with.
  • An elderly woman who’s primary fear was that someone would break into her home and use the gun that her deceased husband had in the home to kill her.
  • An individual who no longer wants street or thug life or anything that used to resemble where he had come from.

Every person received prayer and all interactions were positive. Thank you Peoria for your continued support and prayers. The Peoria Pastors Assn. is on the move.

Churches And Pastors:
This Association is all church inclusive and an interdenominational effort. Any church wishing to be a part of the Association and be recognized as such, should call Pastor Burnett at (309)688-6599 or any of the fine Pastors listed on this site.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Peoria Gun Exchange Event

Gun Exchange Theme & Purpose:
The theme for the gun exchange event is "I Am My Brother’s Keeper, Not His Killer" Our purpose is to get guns and weapons off of the street and out of the wrong individuals hands. We are targeting guns that have been used and that could be used in criminal activity which includes violent crimes and any other felonious activities.

Gun Exchange Target:
We are targeting individuals who have been or are likely to be involved in criminal activity using handguns or other weapons. We are targeting family members who have been encouraging individuals to not be involved in criminal activity but have no incentive to take matters into their own hands.We are also targeting individuals who wish to simply take initiative to change their lives, circle of friends and value systems.

Event Goal:
Our goal is to assist in lowering the potential of violent crime resulting from handgun use and misuse. In addition we will minister to the physical and spiritual needs of the individuals and families turning in weapons, and create a greater partnership with the church, police, and the business community.

Gun Exchange Dates:
Sept. 22nd, 2007 and tentatively for 3 Saturday’s consecutively. All Saturday afternoons from 10:00AM to 2:00 PM. There will be 4 different churches used in this effort. The first church is Kingdom Temple Church Of God In Christ located at 911 W. Smith St. Peoria, IL. 61605

We will provide $100 (Non-alcohol & tobacco) food or retail vouchers or gift card certificates in exchange for every qualifying gun. Retail certificates for the first week of the event will be provided by MacDonalds Shell, Walmart and The Finish Line. Due to funding levels supplies will be limited.

Volunteer Training:
There is a training session set for 6:30 PM Thursday Sept. 20th at the Kingdom Temple COGIC 911 W. Smith Peoria, IL. 61605. (309)655-0500. There will also be additional training at 9:00 AM Saturday Sept. 22nd 2007, immediately before the event kickoff.

Pastor Harvey Burnett
Pastors Assn. Exec. Dir.
New Bethel COGIC- (309)-688-6599

Pastor Bob Randle
Pastors Assn. Member
Higher Dimensions Church- (309)-673-9594

Supt. Embra Patterson
Pastors Assn. Member
Kingdom Temple Church Of God In Christ- (309)655-0500

Capt. Phil Korem
Peoria Police Dept. – (309)-494-8399