Rev. John Algera and Rev. Sheila Holmes, Christian Reformed pastors in Paterson, N.J., are spearheading a gun buy-back campaign to get the weapons out of their local neighborhoods.
The pastors initiated the campaign after learning of four murders within blocks of their churches. Bullets even pierced the home of one of Algera’s members.
Algera pastors Madison Avenue CRC and Holmes pastors Northside Community CRC. They teamed up with Habitat for Humanity, on whose board they both serve. Over 160 homes have been built in the area by Habitat, but residents are starting to move away because of rising violence.
With funding from Habitat and other sponsoring organizations, guns are collected by the police at a local church or at police headquarters. Operational guns net their owners $100; the payout is $50 for a nonoperational gun and $25 for a BB or paintball gun. During the first week of the campaign more than 70 guns were turned in.
Prayer teams from Madison, Northside, and other churches walk the streets on Saturday mornings, praying for the neighborhoods.