LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (KTHV) -- One Little Rock church is hoping to stop violence in the city by reaching out to men in the community.
Saint Mark Baptist Church hosted an open discussion Wednesday night to men, and many who showed up were very concerned for the younger generations growing up in Little Rock. Senior Pastor Phillip L. Pointer said opening up a discussion is important and will provide kids better resources.
"There's no magic bullet that is going to heal all the issues in our community," Phillip said. "The hopelessness of these men is the primary issue and so if we can provide them with some hope, some answers then I believe we can rescue some from this negative experience that they're having."
About 300 men and boys showed up, including many who have lived in Little Rock their whole lives. Kelvin Swift was born and raised in Little Rock and he said the changes in the city are very concerning.
"I was growing up you could leave your block, three or four blocks away, you didn't care. Now you don't want your child to go out the front yard," Swift said.
Pointer said he hopes the men that showed up will feel inspired to go out into the Little Rock community and help young boys make the right decisions. The discussion was targeted at black men, but men from all different backgrounds showed up, too. Hart Moore, a white man, said the reason he came was to make sure he let people know he really cared about this issue.
"So many of these deaths are taking place in a community where people like me, we don't associate much there," Moore said. “So I want to see a rise in being a man and being in children’s lives and I'm willing to step forward and be one of those."
Wednesday’s discussion won’t solve the violence overnight, but Phillip said it is a step in the right direction.
"We want to help process through that grief so that we don't become completely hopeless and give up on our young men," he said.
A spokeswoman for the church said she hopes to eventually open up a discussion to women as well. Wednesday’s discussion was the first of its kind for Saint Mark Baptist Church.