‘Cease Fire’: NN pastor, whose church has hosted countless funerals for murder victims, pushes for change

Newport News

NEWPORT NEWS, Va. (WAVY) — The sign out front of the Restoration and Faith Ministry in Newport News says it all.

“Cease Fire,” said Pastor Thurman Leonard. “It’s been out there for many years.”

Though it has just as much meaning today as it did when it was first leaned up the against the wall outside of Restoration Faith and Ministry.

“We are just hoping and trusting real soon that what’s on the sign is going to be demonstrated in our streets,” Leonard added.

Leonard has seen his share of violence and funerals.

“Over the past 19 years of being here, we probably serviced somewhere in the neighborhood of 50-60% of the murder victims on this Peninsula,” he said.

There have been so many killings that he has lost count.

“Sadly, we have had sometimes two or three in a week,” Leonard added.

The last happened just blocks from the church. A man was found shot to death Tuesday morning. Police are still looking for the killer.

“To have something like this happen to him, it really broke my heart,” Leonard said.

He now plans to rally other area pastors and look for ways to end the violence.

“We are going to try to bridge this gap to try to get the young men to see themselves better than what they see themselves,” the pastor added.

It’s not easy, because the streets are always calling.

“The streets have so many things to offer, and it’s not good,” Leonard said.

But together with hard work, they’ll prove actions speak louder than words.

“It’s time for this to stop,” Leonard added. “Just like the sign says it is time for cease fire. It’s time.”

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