Mid-South pastors unite with hopes to curb violent crime

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MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Hundreds of Mid-South pastors are so disturbed by recent violence that they started a massive effort to put a stop to crime.

Pastors in the area are always fighting for change, but after shootings from this past weekend and seeing how full the jail has become, they're giving it their full attention.

"I had just left church, and a young man, 16-year-old, had been shot and another gentleman and rushed to the med," said Rev. Walter Womack, president of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference. "Two shot in broad daylight. It just struck me, made me think I have to do more. That could have been my son."

That shooting is certainly not the only crime that tugged on Womack's heart strings, but it's the one that made him say enough is enough.

"Memphis ranks third in the nation in violent crimes, and that is unacceptable," Womack said.

Womack said he is determined to use his platform as president of SCLC to turn this city around.

"We have decided to stand with this president to see what is it we can do," said Pastor Joe Wiley, president of the Memphis Baptist Ministerial Association.

The MBMA has about 350-400 pastors in its membership. Wiley thinks strength in numbers will make a difference in the fight against violence on the streets of Memphis.

"It's made it to a lot of doors, and pretty soon, it could make it to ours if we don't do something about it," Wiley said. "It just might be too late."

That's a fate these pastor say they'd rather not wait to see.

"It's going to take all of us," Wiley said.

Womack has already met with MPD Director Michael Rallings and the district attorney. Now he believes having an entire network of pastors on board striving towards the same goal will help to see the vision through.

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