Headlines from First Thoughts

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Faith Communities Engage Initiatives to End Violence

Faith Communities Engage Initiatives to End Violence

Knoxville, Tenn.--Seeking to end hatred and violence in all its forms, over 100 faith communities—representing more than 50,000 members—and the Knoxville area organizations that bind them together, are working to act in cooperation to end violence.

Those participating in this effort include: Johnnie Skinner, Mt. Zion Baptist Church and the Clergy Caucus of the Knoxville Interfaith Network (KIN); Grant Standefer, Compassion Coalition; Thea Peterson; St. John’s Lutheran Church and Knoxville Inner City Churches United for People (KICCUP); Julie Blakeley, First Baptist Church of Knoxville; Chris Buice, Tennessee Valley Unitarian Universalist Church; Joe Ciccone, Immaculate Conception Catholic Church; John Bluth Gill, Church of the Savior, United Church of Christ; Jim Sessions, United Methodist Church and the Children’s Defense Fund; William D. Shiell, First Baptist Church of Knoxville; and the Bahai Community.
"We welcome anyone to join with us in working constructively to address violence in the city, but we reject the notion that such violence can be attributed to any single race, class or group of people. Any act of violence, any practice of injustice and any suggestion of prejudice or racism toward anyone in our community should concern everyone in our city. We call upon all citizens to reach across the boundaries of race, faith, neighborhood, class and other differences among us to join hands in an effort to build community, goodwill and trust in our community rather than tear it down."

To that end, several faith communities and organizations are engaged in initiatives to address the root causes of violence including, but not limited to, the following:

· Mentoring at-risk Children
o Knoxville Interfaith Network (KIN) addresses bullying in public schools. Youth and Education Action Teams will be hosting forums with youth this summer to address violence.
Specific events

Get involved this Summer to End Violence.....

KIN's Neighborhoods Action Team
The next three months our dates are June 28, July 26, and Aug 23.
7:00-8:30 Immaculate Conception Catholic Church

Youth & Education Action Team
Church of the Savior
7 to 8:30 on the third Tuesday of the month.
June 19, July 17, Aug 21.

KIN's Strengthening Families Action Team
Immaculate Conception Church
7 to 8:30
June 7, July 5, Aug 2.

o KICCUP Churches provide mentoring through KidsHope USA. First Baptist is providing mentoring to 20% of the students at South Knoxville Elementary. St. John’s Lutheran begins a similar initiative this fall. Many others provide volunteers and mentors.

o "There is an immediate need in the Fall 2007 for volunteers and mentors in urban schools.” said Thea Peterson. “We’re challenging more faith communities to step forward to volunteer with at-risk kids through any number of wonderful mentoring groups in Knox County,” said Grant Standefer of the Compassion Coalition. Examples include Amachi, Big Brothers Big Sisters, and KidsHope USA.

Conducting a Clergy Conference on Domestic ViolenceKnoxville’s Family Justice Center will host a conference on domestic violence for all clergy on November 13, 2007. We’re challenging the Faith Community to participate in issues to

prevent domestic violence and child abuse. This event will provide education, training, and resources for faith communities regarding domestic violence and abuse.

· Call to Prayer
o As a result of the “Save our City” rally April 27, we are calling for prayer for the victims of violence
o Prayer gatherings are scheduled in African-American, KICCUP, and KIN faith communities.

· Commitment and invitation to dialogue with government representatives and neighborhoods about the root causes of violence.

For more information about these and other initiatives to end the violence in Knoxville, please contact William D. Shiell at (865) 363-7087 or at shiell@fbcknox.org. Information and links will be posted online at www.fbcknox.org/endviolence.htm.

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