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.