Faith Leaders Ex-Offenders Keep it Real on Gun Violence, Offer Counseling & Encouragement

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By Bernice Elizabeth Green

Last Saturday, August 25, Rev. Diane Hodges and Rev. Bruce William, soldiers in Prison Ministry, who delivered the word of peace and healing to hardened criminals hardened lives  to young troubled…. joined the Ethelyne Henderson Women’s Missionary Society and the Bridge Street Prison Outreach Ministry Outreach Ministries of Bridge Street AWME Church to  host a dynamic, emotion-filled workshop on gun violence in the community.
AS the faith leaders touch the community, so on Saturday, these former offenders reached the audience, with their powerful testimonies.  It was not the usual sanctuary solemnities; it was real talk, about their real lives, with all concluding with the reality of what will happen if we do not deal with the situation now.
The event theme, “Educate to Eradicate,” underscored the message of the day delivered in the church’s Richard Allen Hildebrand Fellowship Hall by former convicts and street-gang members who have “been there.”
Hosted by evangelist Hodges, a member of Bridge Street who is based in Utica, NY., the afternoon event comprised a speakers  forum,  Q&A and giveaways to the children of school supplies and books.
“Historically, Bridge Street Church has always been a proactive church that seeks to address all issues affecting our parishioners and the community in which serve,” noted the event program.  “Today, our primary goal is to provide our youth with the information on the negative impact of gun violence on family, friends and the community.  We aim to offer some solutions on how and why not to get involved in any illegal activity.  We also encourage our youth to set educational goals, and to study hard to achieve those goals so that they will be equipped for life’s journey.”
Bridge Street, according to the program, is blessed with an array of ministries that are available to meet the emotional, physical and spiritual needs of o (the)congregation and the community, says in the program, David Cousins, Pastor church pastor.
“With the pants sagging, gangs taking over, hard to be positive about anything.”  His turning point came about when he lost everything he had… , in one day.  Your life can be changed in a moment.” For good or for bad.
Also, says Rev. Hodges, you can’t talk about harsh things nicely.  It’s gotten rough, and times have changed.  Beyond scared straight tactics, it’s telling it like it is. “The flip side of this is we must speak from the heart.  “We stop the violence by doing what we ‘re doing today: educating the community and letting them know. The alternatives, and the biggest alternative is lack of access to education.
“I’m a product of the 60’s, my daddy was a Baptist preacher and he took us on a whole lot of marches.” says Rev. Hodges .  “Are we sitting in church every Sunday churching ourselves, caught up with tricks and playing games, walking around pretending we don’t know because t s didn’t happen in our homes.It’s not about us, it’s about the children.
To connect with  Rev. Hodges, call: To reach  AmentA counselors, call David A.D. Bowles, 347-942-6458.