The Rev. Walter Womack, president of the Memphis Chapter of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, addresses the media during a press conference at the Memphis Baptist Ministerial Association headquarters on McLemore in South Memphis on Tuesday. (Photo: Tyrone P. Easley)

Members of the Memphis Baptist Ministerial Association (MBMA) Tuesday (July 27) spoke out against gun violence.

Members made their feelings known during a news conference at the end of the association’s regularly scheduled meeting.

Rev. Walter Womack, pastor of Faithful Baptist Church in South Memphis and chairman of the association’s Crime and Prevention Committee, said the MBMA was taking action against the rampant gun violence sweeping the city.

“We’re putting together events and programs,” said Womack. “It’s urgent that we begin to do some work. Time is out for talking. We’ve done enough talking. We’re eager to work alongside other efforts. Gun violence is wrecking horror in the lives of people in our community.”

Womack, who also is president of the Memphis Chapter of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC), said the first of those events is planned for Aug. 21.

“We are having another planning meeting on the 9th of August,” said Womack. “We will hash out the details of a huge block party right there in front of our ministerial headquarters at 591 E. McLemore Ave. 

“There will be activities for the children, and there will be opportunities for law enforcement to interact with the community. We’ll have someone to come out and talk with our youth. The key is working with our youth.”

Womack’s philosophy about working with children did not just start. That’s how he got Faithful Baptist Church started, he said.

“I started the church with nothing but mostly children. People would say, ‘No one is over there but a bunch of children.’ But children have parents and grandparents. Today, many of those children are in college now, sending back their tithes. Children will draw adults,” he said.

Womack said consistent efforts to get gun violence under control in Memphis communities are to be commended. This is the time to join forces with those efforts to turn things around. 

 “It’s time for us to move from lethal to loving in the community,” said Womack. “It’s time to put down the bullets and pick up some Bibles. We’ve got to get out and make a difference.”

Womack said the alarming numbers in gun violence statistics across the city is a wakeup call for pastors to take the gospel of Jesus Christ into the streets and outside of the church walls. 

 “People can be saved and changed, one life at a time, one family at a time,” said Womack. “The gospel of Jesus Christ will make a difference. It can do what we can’t.”

Womack, as SCLC president, has taken on the fight against blight and decay in inner-city communities, a battle his predecessor, Pastor Dwight Montgomery also waged.

Womack has publicly declared in recent years that when children live in a blighted and boarded-up, decaying communities, it is an “injustice against them.”

He expressed in prior instances that blight and decay that have “been allowed to grow and spread” goes hand-in-hand with the rise is crime plaguing Memphis communities.