Charleston churches unveil plan to address troubled West Side

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Four church congregations and community members have come together to unveil a plan to address issues on the city’s West Side.

The plan is apart of an ongoing effort called the West Side Revive Project.

A service was held Monday at the First Baptist Church on Shrewsbury Street to shed light on recent violence in the city and to honor the life of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

“When we talk about Dr. Martin Luther King, it really was a movement that started in the church and that it was able to go out into all society,” said Wayne Crosier, the pastor at Abundant Life Ministries. “We’re believing a movement is going to start in the church, but it’s going to be able to bring healing to our state.”

Over the last month, there have been four homicides on the West Side. The most recent murder occurred last Thursday when police charged Dimitrius Malon, 23, in the shooting death of Nate Chaney, 22, outside the Littlepage Terrace Apartments. Police have also made arrests in the other three cases.

Matthew Watts, the pastor at the Grace Bible Church and CEO of the HOPE Community Development Corporation, said their idea is to get as many people involved in their effort to make the city and state a safer place to live. He said they are inviting the support and participation of federal, state and local lawmakers, church officials, business owners, residents and more.

“We believe there’s a place for everybody to be apart of this movement to address the pain and the pathology that’s plaguing our community,” Watts said.

Crosier agreed with Watts during Monday’s edition of 580 Live.

“We’re calling everybody. It’s not just a community thing. It’s not just a black thing. This is for people who are concerned about our city and about our state,” said Crosier.

Crosier said the response to the violence and other problems must begin from the church.

“When you get prayer involved, there’s definitely hope. There’s definitely a way to reach out to hurting people,” he said.

Project plans also include better education for children and the physical rebuilding of the community by purchasing vacant and decrepit homes to renovate or tear down.

West Virginia University Division of Diversity officials are also part of the effort. In November, they agreed to keep working with community leaders on the West Side to try to change the economically distressed area.

“We could think of no better time than on the 30th anniversary of the national Martin Luther King observance, on the day that’s set aside for this national holiday, to do what Dr. King often did — challenge the group of people that had the problem themselves to become apart of the solution,” Watts said.

Meetings will be held throughout the coming months to get the project going.

For more information or to get involved call Pastor Watts at 304-343-HOPE or email him at [email protected].