November 6, 2014

Dear Lakeshore,

I share the following letter with you as a reminder of LABC’s longstanding commitment to the peace of our city, as an invitation to pray for the coming November 13 Call-In, and as an expression of gratitude for your ongoing support of the ministry of our congregation.

Dear LCC Friends,

I hope October finds you and your family doing well. It is a happy time of year for Giants fans like Rae Rita and kids of all ages look forward to Halloween.

I want to make sure you know that the peace of the City of Oakland is one of the primary concerns and commitments of Lakeshore Avenue Baptist Church. Our Children’s Center is an expression of this commitment; the use of our buildings to foster community understanding is another expression of the same as is our involvement in faith based community organizing through Oakland Community Organizations. OCO advocates for policies and programs that improve the quality of life in Oakland. This fall we are working hard for the passage of State Proposition 47 (Slows the Rate of Mass Incarceration), and Oakland Ballot Measures Z (Safety and Services Parcel Tax) and N (Full Service Public High Schools Parcel Tax).

For seven years OCO has urged our community leaders to adopt a violence reduction strategy called Ceasefire. Ceasefire is an evidence-based intervention strategy that identifies individuals who are part of gangs, groups and cliques with a propensity for violence and invites those individuals to choose a better path while providing them with the resources (education, job training, jobs, recovery programs, etc.) needed to sustain that choice. The intervention includes a clear warning from the police, the district attorney and from federal prosecutors that a failure to choose another way will likely lead to their arrest and prosecution.

An important component of Ceasefire are “call-ins” at which the young men identified as possible participants in violent acts are given the invitation to change and the warning about the consequences of the failure to make the needed change. The call-ins involve presentation, conversation, and a meal. The church is proud to have been chosen as the host for the call-ins. We have hosted three of them; a fourth is scheduled in November.

On the call-in days parking for pick-up of your children can be difficult. We appreciate your forbearance in this. Please know that we have a plan in place that is intended to make it less difficult for you. Also, please know that when the young men who have been called in arrive on campus they are met by a community leader or a plain clothes policeman and escorted to Barnett Hall. Their intended arrival time is 6:15. Because of the heavy police presence on the days we host the call-ins, our campus is one of the safest places to be in the entire city.

Ceasefire has been operational in Oakland for almost two years, two years in which there has been a marked decrease in both the homicide rate and the rate of violent crime in our city. If you would like to read more about the research and philosophy behind Ceasefire I would direct you to the bible of the movement, Don’t Shoot: One Man, A Street Fellowship, And The End Of Violence In Inner-City America by David M. Kennedy of the John Jay School of Criminal Justice.

When I stand to welcome the call-in participants I speak of my hope for a safe city for my young grandsons (16 months and 10 months) to grow up in. Included in that hope is a safe city for you and your children, a city in which there is ample opportunity for all to thrive.

Pastor Jim Hopkins