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Baptist clergy form community group

Tuesday, February 24, 2004

The press conference was held at Trinity Baptist Church.
WARREN -- Ministers from four Baptist churches have organized a new group to help deal with community problems.
The organization, named the Baptist Minister's/Laity Conference International Incorporated, consists of the Rev. Dr. Leon Thompson of Friendship Baptist Church, the Rev. Grady Williams of Trinity Baptist Church, the Rev. Dr. Allan Wade of Greater Harvest Baptist Church, and the Rev. Dr. Frank Hearns of Second Baptist Church.
"This Baptist Minister's/Laity Conference International Incorporated intends to embrace all Baptist Churches in the area with a view toward Baptist enhancement in ministry, in doctrines, in education and in spiritual renewal," the Rev. Mr. Hearns stated during a press conference Monday at the Trinity Baptist Church on Highland Avenue.
The members said that they formed not to specifically address allegations of police brutality but that they will have an "open door policy."
Mr. Hearns said people are welcome to talk to them about any concerns they may have.
Warren Coalition
Another organization, Warren Coalition, which consists of members of minority organizations, has held several meetings since July, when allegations of excessive force and possible illegal strip-searches by police came to light.
The coalition has also asked the city administration for change in police leadership. The group has been critical of Chief John Mandopoulos' behavior outside a local black nightclub and his failure to discipline officers.
Former Mayor Hank Angelo recommended that Mandopoulos be suspended for 10 days for actions by him and officer Manny Nites on May 24 outside 77 Soul, a U.S. Route 422 nightclub, and based upon allegations that he intimidated a television reporter.
The civil service commission upheld the discipline.
Mr. Hearns, who is a member of the civil service commission, said during Monday's press conference that he has concerns with the police department. He declined to elaborate.