YOUNGSTOWN Prayer rally aims to fight hopelessness

A pastor wants troubled people to know there is hope.
YOUNGSTOWN -- A Campbell church will have a prayer rally next week to combat Youngstown's homicide rate and other problems.
Mount Moriah Fire Baptized Holiness Church will conduct the rally from noon to 1 p.m. Monday through Friday in front of Phar-Mor Centre on Federal Plaza downtown.
Pastors, deacons and all concerned people are encouraged to come to the nondenominational event. Others are encouraged to pray wherever they are.
Mount Moriah is involved since most of its members live in Youngstown, said The Rev. Martha E. Taylor.
Besides, everyone in the Valley is in it together, the pastor said.
Vindicator figures show the city has had 15 murders so far this year. That's half or less of the city's total annual murders in recent years.
The city had 31 homicides in 2001 and 30 in 1999. That's a drop from 1998 and 1997, when the city recorded 47 and 45 slayings, respectively, and a sharp decline from the 63 in 1996 and 68 in 1995.
"Whether it's homicide, suicide, depression, we need to let people know Christ is the answer," said the Rev. Ms. Taylor.
Message of hope: The effort overall is to combat the hopelessness prevalent in the Valley.
"There is hope," the pastor said. "Violence is not the way to handle it."
Mount Moriah's associate pastor, the Rev. Mary Wright, said the rally will turn into an effort to save souls.
After the rally each day, participants will travel throughout town to talk to people. The North Side will be the first area to be visited.
Participants will be wearing T-shirts bearing the word "SWAT," which stands for "Soul Winning Action Team."
Ms. Taylor said she sees youths making money on the streets or expecting -- sometimes wrongly -- that sports will be their ticket to a better life.
They need a spiritual foundation, she said.

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