By Barney Blakeney
Churches in the Liberty Hill community of North Charleston are joining in unity to address violent crime that has resulted in the deaths of numerous residents of the neighborhood. Abyssinia Baptist Church, Charity Missionary Baptist Church, Little Bethel Pentecostal Church, Royal Missionary Baptist Church and St. Peters AME Church have come together to form the Liberty Hill Community Churches Coalition. July 22, the coalition will hold its first event, a fish fry and day of fun and activities for residents and their friends. There will be activities for all ages including jump castles, games, basketball and a brief memorial service. The event beginning at 4 p.m. will be held at Felix Pinckney Park, 4764 Hassell Ave. in Liberty Hill.
Coalition spokesman Rev. Edward Simmons said a lot of work has to be done to address the violence devastating North Charleston communities. The coalition has identified at least 10 families in Liberty Hill which have lost loved ones to gun violence. He says there are others in the community of some 700 residents which have not specifically been identified. Many other families have members who were shot, but survived, he said.
Families are grieving and in pain. A fish fry won’t stop the violence, but it can bring people together, help people get to know each other and help them gain more respect for each other, Simmons said. The community event will be a time that can show how everyone in the neighborhood is hurting from the violence and let victims know they are not alone.
“Our main focus is to let people know we’re all family and that family doesn’t hurt one another. Family respects one another, and if one family is hurting, we’re all hurting. We want to bring unity and peace to our community. We’ve got to start somewhere,” Simmons said.
To date in North Charleston there have been 21 homicides – 18 black male victims, one black female victim and two white female victims. Two of the homicides have been Justifiable, said North Charleston police spokesman Spencer Pryor.
Liberty Hill resident Krenston Price, a Deacon at Royal Missionary Baptist Church, said people are asking ‘Where are the churches?’ Four weeks ago several pastors of churches in Liberty Hill began meeting to respond to that question. The coalition is one result of those meetings. Price is confident other churches in the community will join them. He hopes the idea will spread to other communities.