Church aims to curb violence in Flint

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FLINT ( WJRT) - (08/16/15) - There have been nearly a dozen murders since the end of July in Flint. To fight back, the city is hiring five new police officers.

Is that enough to curb a culture of violence? One north end pastor doesn't think so.

Joyful songs fill the air during service at Joy Tabernacle church Sunday morning.

You almost wouldn't notice one family having a harder time singing and smiling - but that's to expect, if you're grieving for a loved one.

"It's an indescribable feeling. It's like numbing and I don't know to be sad or to be angry," said Lindsay Briscoe.

Briscoe's older brother, Jarrett Kent, was shot and killed just after 1 a.m. Tuesday on Flint's south side.

"Don't make no sense. That's what I say. I shake my head, don't make no sense," she said.

Pastor Robert McCathern at Joy Tabernacle says enough is enough. He says the answer to curbing violence is to take more out-of-the-box approaches.

"The city's response once again is more police officers, and that's just a one-sided solution. I agree, zero tolerance. But what about the human aspect of helping mothers and families and children to deal and address the issue of grieving and anger and retaliation? That's missing in this city," McCathern said.

McCathern is starting with his own congregation. First, by talking about the violence. He'll also be giving the eulogy for Kent next Thursday. That night, a social worker will be coming in to help family and community members deal with their grief and living among violence.

"It forces us not to do church as usual. We've got to meet the needs of people, and the people are so paralyzed by this violence, it's hard for them to even respond to God," McCathern said.

McCathern also says it's time for religious organizations in Flint to step up.

"I think the church has left it in the hands of law enforcement for so long that the church must stand up and respond proactively and prevalently to this violence," he said.

As for Briscoe, she and her husband Alan, who's also from Flint, have another solution - leaving. They've been in Oklahoma since 2013 while Alan is in the military.

"I couldn't wait to get away. I lost best friends, and, you know, just needed to get away," she said.

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