A new effort to expand a partnership between faith leaders and the Richmond Police Department took a big step forward Thursday. A larger part of the religious community discussed issues with the chief.
This was different from the monthly meetings he has been holding with a core group of city religious leaders. Thursday, about 70 people came for the discussion. They came from jurisdictions outside of Richmond and faiths other than Christianity to figure out how their goals can coincide with those of the men and women in blue.
"Most churches have the mission of good will for the brothers and sisters, whether they be of the same race, religion or creed," Chief Bryan Norwood said. "I think that mission is what we talked about today-- the mission of Richmond and making sure that Richmond is a better place."
Pastor Mark Becton of Grove Avenue Baptist Church had never heard of the group. Even though many of his 3,000 congregants might not have the same problems as those Richmonders living in the inner city, he came all the way from Henrico for his first meeting.
"Often times in ministry, we often minister on the back end of a tragedy, even a crime," He explained. "It sure would be good to be able to minister before the crime."
Pastor Geronimo Aguilar, or "Pastor G," of The ROC is also a first-timer. He was invited along with Muslim, Buddhist and Jewish leaders from around Central Virginia. They gathered to figure out what they can add to the equation to truly make an impact.
"It's not a north side problem," Pastor G said. "It's not a south side problem. It's not a Christian problem. It's not a Muslim problem. It's all of our problems. All of us coming together is what will make the difference."
The group is scheduled to meet again in two weeks on November 13.
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