Offering love and comfort for the survivors of crime victims and sharing their loss is the goal Sunday afternoon at the eighth annual Crime Victims Memorial Service.
Co-sponsored by Healing Place Ministries, the Area Agency on Aging and the Victim Witness Division of the Prosecuting Attorney’s Office, the service will be held at 3 p.m. at Bethany Missionary Baptist Church, 1923 S. Olive St.
“Unfortunately, the list (of victims) is not getting any shorter and I don’t know how to explain that,” said the Rev. David Morgan of Healing Place Ministries. “There are a lot agencies and churches sharing resources to try and reach a solution to the problem.”
For the Rev. Edna Morgan, the solution is a simple one.
“We’ve got to adopt children, families and schools,” she said. “We’ve got to get back to the days when neighbors say, ‘that’s not the right way to do things,’ to develop a traditional community and teach respect for life.
“Learning to respect one another and love one another, that’s the key,” Edna Morgan said.
Since the annual service began, the Rev. David Morgan said it has been hosted by ministers and churches from both the black and white communities.
“That sort of rotation helps to bring the community together because it shows that crime is not just a black problem or a white problem or a problem on just one side of town,” David Morgan said. “It’s a community problem.
“From day one, they were willing to get behind the effort and their support has been outstanding,” he said.
Pastors and churches that have hosted the service in previous years were the Rev. Henry “Hank” Wilkins at St. James United Methodist Church, the Rev. David Fleming at First United Methodist Church, the Rev. Gary Bell at First Assembly of God Church, the Rev. Dewitt Hill at First Trinity Church of God in Christ, Bishop Esau Watson at Greater Fellowship Ministries, the Rev. Larry Battles at Mt. Nebo Missionary Baptist Church and last year the Rev. Patrick Lockett at New Community Missionary Baptist Church.
In addition to the service at Pine Bluff, Healing Place Ministries also will conduct a memorial service for crime victims in Pulaski County. That service is set for Tuesday, April 23, on the campus of Philander Smith College in Little Rock.
The event kicks off National Crime Victims’ Rights Week, with the national theme being “New Challenges, New Solutions.”
Edna Morgan said those new challenges include the abuse of prescription drugs, which she described as being “out of control.
“We’ve got to have a hands-on, grassroots effort to deal with the problems,” she said. “We can’t expect the community to improve if we don’t work at it.”
As they do every year, a memorial wall bearing the names of all the homicide victims from Pine Bluff and Jefferson County will be dedicated. For 2012, there were 19.
“We know that the families of the victims usually get the word about the service but a lot of times the friends and co-workers of those victims don’t get an opportunity to express their loss or have someone say they’re sorry for that loss,” David Morgan said. “That’s a part of what the service Sunday is all about.”
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2012 homicides in Pine Bluff and Jefferson County
Jan. 11 — Tommy Holcomb Sr., 60.
Jan. 19 — Christopher Patillo, 28.
March 10 — Quinshun Parks, 12.
March 17 — Tarance Franklin, 26.
March 23 — Shirley Owney, 39.
April 7 — Devan Ward, 21.
April 21 — Nicholas Reed, 21.
May 11 — Randall Blake Jr., 29.
May 26 — Jennifer Wainwright, 34 and Marcus Thorns, 44.
June 9 — James S. Johnson, 65.
June 12 — Leroy Collins, 35.
June 26 —Tashara Banister, 22.
July 23 — Latange Long, 34.
Aug. 22 — Michael R. Mallett Jr., 31.
Sept. 25 — Mohammad Islam, 26.
Oct. 5 — Jonathan Haney, 20.
Nov. 16 — Edward Weston, 54.
Nov. 23 — Ricky Brooks, 24.