JONESTOWN — After several murders caused by shootings took place in Clarksdale in recent weeks, Jonestown mayor Kenny Lester decided to take action.
Lester held a “street ministry” across from city hall where pastors and members of the Jonestown community prayed in a circle with approximately 20 individuals on Nov. 20.
The goal was to take the streets back and help lead kids in the right direction.
The mayor, who attends Mary Bethel Missionary Baptist Church in Jonestown, plans to have several street ministry events and hopes the turnout increases each time.
“We’re doing street ministry,” said Lester, who took office in July 2017. “People say that you don’t want to mix politics and God together by me being the mayor, but one thing I found out is every time somebody wins an election, the first thing that they say is give thanks to God.
“So how could you separate God from anything? God is the God of all. My thing is hope and accountability. I don’t like preachers sitting back in church and pray to people that come to church. I don’t like that. I like to see the preachers come out and take leadership, take back initial roles they have in our community.”
Lester said the community should not just see preachers on Sundays.
“There’s a lot of preachers and these are the ones that showed up,” Lester said. “That means a lot to us.”
Preachers who participated in the event were Cornelius Conley from Marks, who is also a police officer, Emanuel Lackey of New Hope Missionary Baptist Church, Rashad Brown from Clarksdale and Bennie Brown from St. James Missionary Baptist Church in Jonestown.
“The Bible said, go out in my vineyard and work, so this is where we are right now,” Lester said.
Sister Rosemary Bruce, sister Laverne Burnettfrom Mary Bethel Missionary Baptist Church in Jonestown and Tammie Taylor, who had a son killed from gang violence, also spoke.
Lester also took the opportunity to tell everyone Jamie Dye, a young Jonestown resident without a vehicle, recently found a job and he does not let that stop him from getting to work.
Lester’s young daughter, Kireunna, also participated in the event and he spoke about the importance of children outliving their parents.
Speaking to the group, Lester urged everyone to get out of their safe comfort zones.
“We’ve got to come out here,” he said. “I’m out here every day. You see me out walking. There isn’t anything that happens that I don’t want to know about.”
Lester said now is the time to take a stand to refuse to let something happen to the kids in the community.
“I’m here with you all every day,” he said. “You all can call me anytime of the night.”
The event occurred two days before Thanksgiving and Lester appreciated everyone coming out in the cold.
However, he felt the turnout would have been greater for something.
“If I said I’m giving out free turkeys up town, I would have a line so long,” Lester said.
Lester said he started to tell people he was giving something out free, but decided not to.
“When something happens, a lot of people don’t come,” he said.
Lester also said when there is a fight, people stop and watch, but he does not plan to give up.
“When you look at Clarksdale, somebody dies every day, every night,” he said. “They say it doesn’t really affect us. It doesn’t affect us until it hits home. It doesn’t affect us until it happens in our backyard. The only time we start caring is when it happens to one of our kids. Parents should be at home cooking Thanksgiving dinner. Instead, somebody somewhere, they’re planning a funeral. I’m really tired of that.”