YOUNGSTOWN Churches pledge help in litter cleanup

Most churches are on main streets where litter cleanup gives visitors a good first impression of the community, the councilman says.
YOUNGSTOWN -- Only four pastors of East Side congregations attended Councilman Rufus Hudson's East Side pastors' summit, but all four said their churches will take part in an early November litter cleanup and in ongoing cleanup efforts in the area of their churches.
"Every journey of 1,000 miles starts with one step. I'm very encouraged. At least we got some people committed, and we're going to be moving forward, and others will join us," said Hudson, D-2nd.
The councilman added that there are 50 churches on the East Side, and he invited the 30 pastors he was able to locate to Thursday's summit. Hudson said his goal is to get each church to adopt for cleanup a three-to-six block area around its sanctuary.
"The church's role is an example to the whole community. We are the people that should shine the light. That's the purpose and the goal of the church overall," said the Rev. Otto L. Rosendary of the Mount Moriah House of Prayer.
"It's a major role for the church because the church has closest proximity to the neighborhoods. And it can be also a witnessing tool to be friendly with the neighbors that are close to the church," said the Rev. Jack Pettis, pastor of Mount Zion Baptist Church, adding that his congregation has already participated in litter cleanup efforts with other Wilson Avenue churches.
Getting youths involved: "We want to teach our youth to be active in the community," said the Rev. Chris London, presiding pastor of Alpha and Omega First Baptist Church, who said his church has already undertaken litter cleanups near its building. The Rev. Mr. London said he'll be giving away two new bicycles to young people active in community service projects, such as litter cleanups.
"It's our way of showing that we give back to the community -- that we're not just taking up space in the community," said the Rev. Terry S. Bolds, pastor of Rising Star Baptist Church on Wardle Avenue, to which Hudson belongs. Mr. Bolds said his 450-member church expects to adopt Wardle Avenue for cleanup.
Other issues raised: Besides litter cleanup, the informal 90-minute summit, conducted in a conference room at Rising Star, covered employment, housing, drainage and sewer issues, and how and where various types of complaints should be registered with city agencies.
Hudson said he is appealing to churches because they are major permanent stakeholders in the community, most of whose parishioners live nearby. He noted that most of the churches are located along main streets, where visitors typically enter and form their first impressions of the community, and where litter cleanup would have a major positive impact.
When the exact dates of the early November cleanup effort are announced, Hudson said he'll enlist the help of Youngstown State University fraternities and sororities, clients of Community Corrections, or inmates from Mahoning County Misdemeanor Jail or the honor farm at the Ohio State Penitentiary.