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West side pastor breaks barriers to create change

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INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. – On nearly every corner there’s a church, but it's not every day a church puts their faith in the streets. A local pastor is combating crime to create change on the west side of Indianapolis.

In 2015, Pastor John Girton of Christ Missionary Baptist Church started picking up trash in the area. After seeing the streets littered with trash, he decided he wanted to embed himself in the community to see what the trash is a result of.

He slept in a tent for 30 days in 2015 and 2017, with a purpose to gain a better understanding of the needs in the community.

“I looked at that as what can we do as a community of faith, what can we do to help people get over some of these barriers,” said Pastor Girton.

Those barriers include joblessness, life skills, infant mortality, housing, health issues, and food programs. Girton is providing a way for people to leap over the barriers by partnering with different organizations. But it wouldn’t be possible without a grant from the Center for Congregations.

"What you see here is a result of their literal blood, sweat, and tears," said Kara Farris.

“We wanted to provide opportunities, but we also wanted to assess and make sure that those people can reach those opportunities successfully, so they can not only get the job as we say it but keep the job,” said Girton.

They allowed the church to add new classrooms to welcome people and partner with others to provide the programs. Some partners include Riley Children’s Hospital, People Ready, Microsoft, Oak Street Health, and a Summer Food Service program sponsored by the Indiana Department of Education and the U.S.D.A.

“People a lot of time need easy access to resources for education, resources for healthcare, resources for food and those basic necessities that help build up the quality of life,” said Pastor James Jackson of Fervent Prayer Ministries.

The free programs and resources are for anyone looking to make a change. Pastors are hoping others jump on board to spread the faith throughout their community.

“Anytime you get an opportunity to support, anytime you get an opportunity to collaborate, get involved. It takes all of us," said Pastor Jackson.

Pastor Girton will hold a ribbon cutting ceremony on Sunday to mark the start of a new journey for those on the west side. Anyone who wants to take advantage of the resources and opportunities, reach out to the church or check out their website for class schedules, events, and sign-ups.

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