On Saturday July 15, 2017, The Word Church of Cleveland along with concerned
citizens marched the east side of Akron during a "Casket Crusade" event.
Marchers in front carried caskets while a crowd of followers marched and chanted statements regarding concern to the rise in community deaths due to gun violence and drug abuse.
A portion of Akron's East side is considered to be an area with high crime, drugs injuries and death. The marchers rallied down several streets ending at the Joy Park where the carried caskets were eventually sat in front of a stage for onlookers to view.
Mirrors were placed on the caskets where views had a chance to look at themselves and reflect on the possibility of where a crime riddled life could lead them.
"Far too many people of color are losing their lives by murder, suicide and overdose," Said Pastor R.A. Vernon.
Your Reporter Newspaper caught up with the Word Church pastor as he rested in an air conditioned Mobile Home after the long march.
"By no means do we think we can stop it all but we want to stop some. My job as pastor is to use whatever influence I have to preach the love of Jesus, and if these crusades are successful in making ten young brothers and sisters put guns down or not to take their own lives; it would have been worth all of it."
Dr. Vernon says the goal is to wake up society, challenge and charge young people that life is worth living and to get young gang bangers to know that it's not cute to take someone's life.
"When you take someone's life you crush their family, you kill a person's potential of
what they could have been. There are people out here killing who don't begin to know the meaning of life."
There has been success in the saving of lives according to the pastor of four mega churches. "Young men in prison reach out to me by mail and of course we mentor to those who come to us for help at the word church."
He continued saying, "This is not a Pastor Vernon event, it's a Word Church event so whatever influence God has given my wife and I, we really want to use it to make Cleveland, Akron and Northeast Ohio better."
Ruby Nelson of Warrensville Hts, Ohio sat front and center of the crowd watching and conversing with a group from the Word Church who calls themselves "Seasoned Saints." Ruby talked about what all of this meant to her.
"This powerful event shows that the Word Church has passion and the interest of the city to be able to generate these many people," said Ruby Nelson. The idea of looking into the mirrors on those caskets and seeing yourself has to be a wake up call for somebody."
Florence Ford described the event as "Awesome." She too a seasoned saint of the Word Church shared, "The bible says that if we lift up Jesus he'll draw all men to us."
"What we're doing today is much needed in Akron, Cleveland and everywhere; somebody's life is going to be changed through all of this."
Mother Dorothy Williams is the mother-in-law of Pastor Vernon and mother of Vernon's wife Lady Victory Vernon.
Mother Williams lead the crowd in songs of praise as they clapped and danced "Saving Souls and Saving Lives," is what she claims to be the events mission.
That's all she chose to talk about as it was evident that Mother Williams was in the presence of the Lord and she was feeling it.
Edna Borders can relate to the violence when it comes to some of Akron's communities. Representing the Akron NAACP at the event, Edna said, "Normally you can't get a crowed together without some type of violence happening, but this was a peaceful demonstration."
"People came from all around showing that we can make a change if we all stick together."
Margaret who chose to remain anonymous stated that she has been a citizen of the east side of Akron for eight years.
"The neighborhood is not looking as bad as it was a few years ago since they started improving the area, but we are losing too many because of drugs and shootings • and that's still a concern; I'm glad to see someone trying to help."
The Word Church Casket Crusade will continue July 22 in East Cleveland, and
the third and final crusade will take place Saturday July 29 in Cleveland's Public Square. For information about the Word Church log on to wordcity. org