DURHAM, N.C. (WNCN) — It was hard to miss the sound of children laughing and people singing in McDougald Terrace Sunday afternoon.
Several people in the Durham neighborhood came together to listen to songs, inspiring words from speakers and enjoy a cooked meal during a community outreach event.
Dr. Jerry Christian, the senior pastor at Russell Memorial CME Church in Durham, said they partnered with local groups to make the event happen on Sunday.
He said the goal was to bring families together.
“As you can see out here, you can see people gathered and talking and enjoying each other’s company — we are all one village and one community here on this side of Durham,” Christian said as he pointed behind where he was standing.
Christian said the church has focused efforts on reducing violence in the area. Not only are they hoping to build relationships with the people, but he also said they’ve been building stronger relationships with local organizations, city leaders and the Durham Police Department.
Christian said not only does it build a sense of unity and trust, but it also ensures everyone is held accountable.
Through their efforts, Christian said they are seeing a positive impact in the community.
“If we continue to do what we’re doing with events like today… things will continue to make a difference and impact this community.” He added, “It’s not all bad. Things are looking up, things are looking better. That love can cover a multitude of faults… that love, unity and respect for one another can bring joy.”
Ashley Canady, the resident council president of McDougald Terrace, said she and others in the neighborhood have also noticed the church’s impact.
“We’re starting to see the kids come out more and I think it’s gotten quite a lot more organizations to feel safer so they’re starting to trickle back out here,” she said.
“Our community has been impacted by so much stuff and anytime we have something positive, it’s always a good thing out here at McDougald,” Canady said.
When the church reached out about the Sunday event, Canady said she didn’t hesitate to help make it happen.
Christian said they will continue their efforts to make Durham a safer place.
“With love, hope and trust, we will bet better than we were yesterday,” he said.
Durham has had more than 20 deadly shootings since January.