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Roseland’s churches campaign to stop neighborhood violence

Pastor Billy Scott Outreach Prayer Delivery Ministry leads prayer service response recent shootings Greater RoselCommunity 1258 W. 103rd street Chicago

Pastor Billy Scott of Outreach Prayer Delivery Ministry leads a prayer service in response to recent shootings in the Greater Roseland Community at 1258 W. 103rd street in Chicago on April 15, 2012. | Al Podgorski~Chicago Sun-Times

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Updated: May 17, 2012 8:14AM

Yevonda Porter stood outside a Roseland church Sunday with several hundred congregation members to show her support for a new community campaign aimed at curbing deadly gun violence on the South Side.

Only last weekend, her beloved aunt, 44-year-old Tanya Gist, was shot to death in the neighborhood, Porter said.

“We miss her dearly,” said Porter, 21. “I wish the violence would stop because they’re taking away our loved ones and it is horrible.”

The prayer vigil at St. John MB Church — along with similar services at other neighborhood churches — signaled the start of a wide-ranging effort by churches, local residents and Roseland Community Hospital to save lives.

“We’re tired of our children being killed, we’re tired of our children being gunned down. Enough is enough,” said the Rev. A. Edward Davis, pastor of the church on 115th Street.

Prompted by ongoing eruptions of violence — including one last week that killed several neighborhood residents — religious and community leaders promised they are “coming out of the churches” to try to help the neighborhood.

The initiative, dubbed “Arms Around Roseland,” includes reaching out to get more residents involved in activities like CAPS and other programs to help prevent crimes before they happen, community officials said.

“We are overwhelmed with these incidents. It’s time for us to do something,” said the Rev. Phillip Cusic, chaplain at Roseland Community Hospital, where many people wounded in neighborhood shootings are treated.

The hospital stepped into the effort because staffers there see the effects of the violence virtually every day.

“We’re at the forefront of all this violence,” said Dian Powell, president and CEO of Roseland Community Hospital, where the new initiative was announced. “It’s our role as a community hospital to help pull the community together.”

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