Petersburg religious leaders fighting to save lives in wake of recent violence

PETERSBURG, Va. -- In the 318 days of 2019, Petersburg has experienced 17 murders, which ties the record for the most in the city in one year.

Something that has hearts heavy among religious leaders in the city.

"It's very sad, it's very heavy," said Gillfield Baptist Church Pastor George Lyons.

"The number 17 is so unfortunate because we haven't even made it out of the year yet," added Bishop Darren Gay Senior with Higher Way Ministries. "Our hearts are concerned."

Gay's church is holding an Open Forum for City Leaders and his congregation to discuss the deadly violence on Sunday.

Pastor George Lyons

Lyons says clergy across the city has reached out to each other about how they can help the city.

"Pastor's throughout this city and I have been in conversation and we've talked about it," said Lyons.

He says their goal is to spread the spirit of love.

"We live in a culture that suggests violence is ok. So, we have to keep preaching to our congregates, our parishioners, that we solve our issues and differences in peace and in love," said Lyons.

Lyons says he murders have taken a toll on local congregations.

"Every single death has impacted either directly or indirectly someone from our particular congregation but certainly from our community," said Lyons.

For Bishop Gay, he's overseen funerals for four of the 17 murders. During some of those services, he says he was aware that some there were armed.

Bishop Darren Gay

"So many times they are even at the funeral, you have some people from the other side that may want to retaliate," said Gay.

Thursday's murder of a 20-year-old came just weeks after Bishop Gay had sat down with him.

"The young man who lost his life yesterday, I had a chance to minister to him as well."

Petersburg Police have a 60% clearance rate for the 2019 murders, having solved nine of the 17.

Anyone with any information about shooting in Petersburg, you are asked to call the Petersburg/Dinwiddie Crime Solvers at 804-861-1212.

Notice: you are using an outdated browser. Microsoft does not recommend using IE as your default browser. Some features on this website, like video and images, might not work properly. For the best experience, please upgrade your browser.