River Glen has been a hot bed for crime in recent years. But the cloud of crime may be lifting and residents are giving credit to one woman who's using a bible, scripture and sermons as her weapons of choice. Dee Griffin has the story.
Known as the "church lady".. most of the residents in River Glen apartments don't know her real name. But they are feeling the affects of Pastor Angela Harden. She has taken her ministry from the pulpit to the pavement of one of Augusta's most troubled areas. Pastor Angela Harden leads the Church Without Walls. She explains, "we do it under the heavens outside of the building. We're doing what God has commanded us to do as the church. Go yea therefore."
She's doing it in an area that saw significant crime last year. Flashing blue lights and crime tape became common sights in River Glen as gun shots killed nearly half a dozen people in the complex during 2012 alone. Now, bullet holes are common reminders of the crime that plagued a place hundreds call home. LaShannon Cunningham has lived in River Glen for six years. She says, "we had a memorial on the ground over in the corner and before we could even get that one up there was a murder in the front. That was within a week's span."
Even Pastor Harden's family has been touched by crime here. Pastor Harden says, "three years ago my nephew was shot and killed out here. So I'm very passionate about River Glen."
So much so, she holds worship service on this open space in the complex every Wednesday night. Her ministry is just one weapon in the complex's fight to end crime. Management has also cut tree limbs and installed better lighting to reveal crimes that often hide in darkness. The complex has also given the ministry an apartment to hold service in case it rains. "When you have people in management that can help and they want to see a difference and they invest in making that difference, it does that, it makes a difference," she adds.
Step by step, Pastor Harden and her ministry are using their faith to shoot down crime and build up a safe community one person at a time. "We're doing what God has called us to do. Not only has he called us but he has equip us and he has given us a heart for the people," says Pastor Harden.
Each Sunday, Pastor Sam Davis and Beulah Grove Baptist send a van to pick up River Glen residents and take them to church. Also, Pastor Harden has a mentoring group at River Glen. All of these components have been credited with the decrease in crime there.
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