A Queens clergy leader is not simply saying prayers to stop the borough’s violence. He is traveling and delivering them himself.
Reverend Phil Craig of the Greater Springfield Community Church needed a way to bring his community together and “get everybody on the same page,” he said.
For his “Project Prayer,” Craig intends to spend the summer walking throughout the borough starting in the southeast. He said he hopes the project can be a forum for people of all backgrounds to come together and state their hopes and intentions in a safe environment.
“If we can pray together, then we can surely work together,” said Craig, who is president of the Jamaica National Action Network.
He said he met with the network’s executive board to discuss his idea the same day 14-year-old D’aja Robinson was aboard a city bus and shot by a bullet allegedly intended for somebody else. Craig added that the incident further confirmed the need to stop the perpetual string of violence throughout his community.
“I don’t care what faith base you come from, I’m talking about let’s all come together,” Craig said. “There’s corruption and conspiracy, it’s all a plague over this community.”
Craig said life is very different nowadays. He noted that in the past, churches used to be the cornerstone of the community, children were raised differently and people had a mutual respect for one another. Now, he sees people being territorial and violence erupting as a result.
“If we can get people in housing complexes, the clergy, the community leaders and the police department to all come together, this community can be a very powerful one,” Craig said.
He hopes to reach the borough’s youth since they are “the ones that are angry, the ones that are committing these crimes.”
“If we can plant these seeds in these children, we can weed out this generation that seems to be lost,” he said. “If we keep planting good seeds, we will reap what we harvest.”
Project Prayer is set to start July 13 at the Rochdale Village Houses and will continue to visit different housing projects in the region, eventually spreading north to Long Island City and Flushing.
“I want to do something that I believe will be a comfort to people’s hearts,” Craig said. “This right here is something everyone can take part in. No matter where you go for worship — or if you don’t go anywhere — we have to be able to live together, and that’s what it’s all about.”