• St. Louis clergy calls for prayer to end violence, hunger

    April 29, 2014  •  By Elisa Crouch ecrouch@post-dispatch.com 314-340-8119


    ST. LOUIS • About two dozen members of the St. Louis Metropolitan Clergy Coalition joined together Monday for a common purpose: the city’s schoolchildren.

    Inside New Northside Missionary Baptist Church, they called for a week of prayer to put an end to the violence that has claimed the lives of nearly 20 children in the city school system this year. They also called attention to hunger, which they fear will increase once children are out of school for the summer, and not getting school lunches or breakfasts.

    “If you are hungry, you cannot think,” said the Rev. Traci Blackman, pastor of Christ the King United Church of Christ. “If you are hungry you cannot act appropriately. If you are hungry you are desperate.”

    The coalition also announced its backing of St. Louis Superintendent Kelvin Adams’ transformation plan, aimed at improving low-performing schools. The plan involves additional training in reading instruction for teachers, sending more resources and accountability to the worst schools, and hiring nonprofit contractors to run them if district efforts fail.

    “We feel it’s worth a try,” said the Rev. Earl Nance Jr. of Greater Mount Carmel Baptist Church.

    The Special Administrative Board of St. Louis Public Schools is scheduled to vote on the plan Thursday.

    The clergy called upon members of all faiths to join in a week of prayer starting May 27, just days before the school year ends.

    “Our vision is that from the north of St. Louis to the south of St. Louis — our city will be united in prayer,” said the Rev. Rodrick Burton, pastor of New Northside Missionary Baptist.

    About 30 church members and volunteers sat in the pews, voicing agreement. Mildred Jones, there with her husband, Joe Jones, said she’ll be actively praying.

    “Prayer helps everything,” she said. “No child should be hungry, any time.”