Spiritual Role Models

AFTER READING YOUR special report on the Gang Summit, I realized the waves of spiritual energy created in Kansas City rippled to the Twin Cities for the Gang Summit held in St. Paul, July 15-18.

I sensed a rainbow in our midst when gang members, church leaders, and other supporters joined hands at the "All Nations Under God" summit to envision a brighter future. One of the conference's goals was to create a spiritual base for all participants.

Why do I find hope in a summit involving many youth and adults who actively participated in violence? As a Christian educator, I realize gang members were not flocking to Mount Olivet Baptist Church primarily to enrich their spirituality. Their daily reality makes such a priority difficult.

The real hope lay in the role modeling of community leaders such as a Rev. James Battle and Rev. Jerry McAfee, and the willingness of gang leaders to include spirituality in the summit. Battle and McAfee were willing to meet the gang members where they were, yet challenged them to visualize a future founded on a common good. They see hope where most others only recognize despair.

Rainbows often appear after a storm. I hope and pray that a spectrum of possibilities may shine from the summit encouraging all people to replace violence with mutual respect. As Martin Luther King Jr. once said, "We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny."

Doug Meeker

Minneapolis, Minnesota

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Sojourners Magazine November 1993
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