The heartfelt empathy extended to the families who have experienced loss due to the violence displayed on the streets of Pittsburgh was a force to reckon with during a recent service held at Pentecostal Temple COGIC in East Liberty. The City-Wide Interfaith Service on Violence and Civic Engagement event was hosted by Bishop Loran Mann and sponsored by the Black Political Empowerment Project (B-PEP). The organization, led by Chairman and CEO Tim Stevens, advocates for the needs, aspirations and concerns of the African American community.
The gathering was a clarion call to the churches, synagogues, mosques and people of faith to join forces and become familiar with the issues that create the climate of lethal behavior that threatens the safety of many inner city blocks.
The MAD DADS, Mothers with a Voice, and other advocacy groups came to lend their support to this initiative suggested and emphasized by B-PEP. Pastor Deryck Tines and the Lemington Gospel Chorale, and other gospel choirs from across the city offered musical inspiration as the grieving mothers shared their horrific stories of their slain children.
The anguish was evident in the voice of one mother, Wynona Harper, who spoke of the death of her nephew, and later her son, who was killed execution style in 2013. She told of the dysfunction in our communities and how hard it is for Black men to survive in this society. She further emphasized the daily distress and hardship of the despondent young people on the streets and her commitment to giving them hope through Jamar’s Place of Peace, her visionary shelter.