A Bloomington pastor has started a conversation on gun violence that he wants to take beyond the church's walls.
Pastor of Grace Deliverance Church Octavious Wilson is part of a group calling itself Ignite Change, which he hopes can help young people find a better future.
“If we can somehow bridge the gap, bring us together, use the resources that people along the margins might not have and introduce them to new things,” Wilson said. “I just pray that we can all come together on one accord and build up our community so that our kids can have a good life.”
Ignite Change hosted a second planning meeting Sunday at the church. It is planning a summer block party that would include a job fair. A date and location haven’t been set.
Organizer Arianna Hudson said the event is intended to give young adults something to do and a chance for a brighter future.
"We can definitely get them connected and get the young generation to pick up a trade,” Hudson said. “Maybe they will put the guns down and different things that are not going to be beneficial to them in their life.”
Wilson added he wants to involve church leaders in neighborhoods that have seen the most violence to help offer solutions.
Ignite Change is also looking to build a partnership with YouthBuild McLean County to help young adults get career training and with Can Do Kids, a mentoring program that assists children from preschool to junior high.
Wilson, who said he grew up on some rough streets on Chicago’s South Side, said he felt compelled to find solutions to help young people in the community because he had experienced a similar tragedy in his own life.
Wilson was 29 when a close friend was shot to death 10 years ago.
“It’s my prayer that I will be able to show (young people) a different route before they make some of the same mistakes we are seeing now in Bloomington-Normal,” Wilson said.
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