One East Baltimore pastor has taken matters into his own hands and is staging funerals in an attempt to show young adults what it means to take a life.
Amidst the spasm of street violence that seems to grip the city, Pastor Drew Kyndall Ross, of Resurrection Church, led his first simulated funeral, on July 27.
“I wanted to send a message to the community that the change we need starts with our brothers and sisters in these neighborhoods,” Ross told the AFRO.
The idea of showing the community a simulated funeral first started with a conversation Ross had with a colleague. He said he wanted to capture the attention of people who came to the event. “Sometimes you have to step outside the box to capture some ones attention and bring these incidents close to home,” Ross said.
During the staged funeral, people were able to see a real hearse pull into their neighborhood with a real, but empty casket inside. “This gave them a feeling of what a funeral looks like,” said Ross. As seven men removed the casket from the hearse, young men and women stood in silence.
Derasia Kornell,17, who lives in west Baltimore, said she was shocked to see the casket. “I hope what Pastor Ross did was send a message to kids in my age group that it’s not safe out here,” Kornell said.
“This was definitely a reality check,” she told the AFRO.
Funeral Director John Williams of John Williams Funeral Home, helped Ross stage the event. “I think having something this dramatic, will hopefully show our young men and women that we care about them,” Williams said.
“We are killing ourselves, I don’t think they really understand that death is so final,” Williams told the AFRO. “These children need to know that once you pull that trigger, it could very well be over.”
Since moving his church to the inner city, from Baltimore County, less than two years ago, Ross wanted to become more involved in community outreach and helping urban neighborhoods. He forged many relationships that gave him opportunities to help and connect with people in the community.
In his efforts to fight against violence, Ross partnered with the Lanvale Towers and Canal Courts community, the low-income housing developments near Ross’ place of worship.
“We needed a pastor to come to us, since so many of our residents aren’t able to get out of their homes to attend church,” Resource Coordinator, Peggy Demby said. “There is a lot of drug activity in this community, however since having a man of God present, it appears that it slowed down.”
Ross said he “wants to turn high crime neighborhoods around.” He said that the senseless killings are constant reminders that if we don’t do something the person in the casket could be anyone.
“We all know someone that has fallen victim to street violence,” Ross said.
Surrounding the long, oak wood casket people in the community stood in prayer and full of emotions yelling, enough is enough.” Ross said he wanted to show the community that the violence that’s occurring isn’t okay.
“Bringing the word of God outside the walls of the church, allows us to reach more people in the community,” he said. “I’m taking my ministry to the streets to show unity.”
Over the course of a three-hour demonstration against violence, people in the community, residents and church members were able to listen to music, get free haircuts, manicures, food and face painting for the children. Ross also presented everyone with a sermon based around overcoming obstacles that would in turn “allow us to be stronger people and build stronger communities.”
“Too many of our people are dying, and it needs to stop,” said Ross.