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Church holds peace rally encouraging South Dade youth to ‘save the world’

Lamari Morrison, a junior from Westminister Christian School and Alexandra Ferrer, a freshman from Arthur & Polly Mays Conservatory School during Second Baptist Church's ‘Our Youth Can Save the World’ peace rally on Friday, Jan. 22.
Lamari Morrison, a junior from Westminister Christian School and Alexandra Ferrer, a freshman from Arthur & Polly Mays Conservatory School during Second Baptist Church's ‘Our Youth Can Save the World’ peace rally on Friday, Jan. 22. cportilla@miamiherald.com

Second Baptist Church in Richmond Heights wants to empower its youth through events in the community with other organizations.

On Friday, Second Baptist hosted “Our Youth Can Save the World,” a peace rally in partnership with the church Community Development Corp., aimed at eradicating violence, bullying, hate crimes and difficulties that trouble and challenge young people in South Dade.

Second Baptist took action after Amir Castro, 7, was killed in a December drive-by shooting.

The inaugural event served as a hub for other youth groups, secular and Christian, to get together and brainstorm ideas. Second Baptist is a resource and education center for adults and students from kindergarten to college level in the area. In a few weeks, the church will unveil a 71-room senior living facility and are currently in the planning stages of building a community center for Richmond Heights.

Church Pastor Alphonso Jackson Sr., recognized that young people in the area lack engagement in a way that speaks to them in today’s digitally advanced world. With the help of Mark Valentine, the creative director, and Twila Payne, board chair of the SBC Development Corp., volunteers and church members hosted the event to create a web of networks for producing progressive changes.

“We just don’t want any other children to be killed or hurt by senseless violence. We want to help teach children and our community to make better choices and better decisions when faced with difficult adversity and the choices they make,” Jackson said. “And there are other choices. Self-esteem and building confidence in themselves is important. Also being Christ-centered, we believe in instilling Christian belief, but all these children don’t have the same beliefs and morals, but we love them as well.”

The free event was hosted by DJ Smoove. Refreshments and performances were more than just a party, said the pastor. “There are messages to parents, children and youth workers at this event. We need all hands on deck. And after this is over with, we need to think, ‘Where do we go next?’ and network with other agencies finding out what they are doing and be a part of that and then have them come here.”

The event featured a backdrop for selfies, Christian hip-hop and rap, and a panel of speakers aimed at discussing topics that would speak to both parents and the youth culture. For Second Baptist, it’s not only about exploring ideas for their church, but also creating a healthy conversation within the whole community.

Alexandra Ferrer, a freshman at the Arthur & Polly Mays Conservatory of the Arts, attended the event after a teacher arranged for a student-choreographed dance performance at the church entitled People, with themes of peace and humanitarian efforts.

“I think it’s a really good opportunity for people to come together and raise awareness of what’s going on around here,” she said. “As a community, we need to be strong and support each other so that those bad influences can’t enter. It’s the first time I came here, but I like it.”

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