San Bernardino Pastors United (SBPU), a coalition of 20 local churches, hosted its second block party Saturday afternoon at Jefferson Hunt Elementary School in San Bernardino with a turnout of over 3,000 residents. The group’s core message “You Can Come To Us,” inspired by the biblical verse “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest,” Matthew 11:28, resounded throughout the event that highlighted a powerful sermon delivered by Pastor Joshua Beckley of Ecclesia Christian Fellowship, a children’s ministry led by Susan Zavala of The Way World Outreach, free food, six pallets of free groceries, free shoes and entertainment.
“We were so proud of the event,” said Rev. Reginal Young of Ecclesia Christian Fellowship and SBPU Crisis Coordinator. “There were no incidents of violence or outbursts, the message was one that love conquers all and that hate can’t define us.”
According to Young residents were encouraged by the churches’ open door policy and commitment to provide support and relief.
“I was at the first block party last year, but to see that the churches are going to keep engaging with the community makes me believe that they really want to help us,” said resident Angelina Huerta.
A resource list was distributed to residents, and Young explained that the heavy lifting occurs during the wake of the block parties.
“I call to follow up and direct them to the organizations that will best meet their respective needs,” he said. “I let them know that there are resources available and reassure them that the churches are committed to being there for them.”
The organization’s goal is to identify and meet the essential needs of the community that would effect positive change through drug counseling and rehabilitation, job placement and strengthening families.
SBPU has a three-pronged strategy to curbing the city’s crime rate: Crisis Engagement Team, charged with prevention and intervention measures; Community Engagement Team, responsible for reaching out to residents; and the Civic Engagement Team, which works closely with the San Bernardino Police Department.
Los Angeles-based Golden State Opportunity Foundation recently donated $1,000 to SBPU’s efforts in a show of support and commitment to its mission, and validation of the organization’s efforts.
The Rock Church, St. Mark Missionary Baptist and St. Stephens Church are new members of SBPU, joining Ecclesia Christian Fellowship, The Way World Outreach, First Baptist Church, San Bernardino SDA Church, Victory Outreach, New Life Church, Church of the Living God Temple 208, Life Center Church, Life Changing Ministries, Westside Christian Center, Kingdom Culture Worship Centre, Catholics of African Descent, Spirit of Love Church, Immanuel Baptist Church, St. Timothy Community Church, San Bernardino 16th St. SDA Church, and Treasure of the Heart Ministry.
The next block party will be held on Saturday, June 17 at Anne Shirrels Park in San Bernardino from 2 – 5 p.m.