The Senior Pastoral Alliance started with a single man’s effort, but has stretched across northern Lafayette, drawing upon the strength of 28 other pastors and their congregations.
Elected leaders, state officials and area pastors and their flocks pressed inside the Cajundome Convention Center on Sunday night, determined to make a difference in North Lafayette and beyond.
The Senior Pastoral Alliance inducted some 30 church leaders into the organization, which has expressed its commitment to change the community for the better. Some 1,800 people attended, organizers said.
“We are mission focused,” said the Rev. Ken Lazard, pastor of Destiny of Faith Christian Center Church, who organized the alliance and serves as its president. He said the group and other pastors who are joining them are organizing themselves, learning the member churches’ strengths and setting the stage for action in the latter half of this year.
“There is a need to come together to meet the challenges of this community,” he said Sunday night, speaking specifically about north Lafayette but pointing to other areas, too. That’s why the alliance called on public officials, from the governor’s office to city-parish government, to join the grassroots effort.
Reggie Thomas, interim Lafayette police chief, said law enforcement wants to hear what the pastors have to say, wants law enforcement to be part of the answer.
He said this pastoral movement differs at least in size and scope.
“It’s the first time I’ve seen so many pastors come together,” he said.
Sheriff-elect Mark Garber said he first met Lazard on the campaign trail, talked with him about the pastoral alliance’s intentions and has been “all in” since.
“We’re going to support him in every way possible,” Garber said.
Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development Secretary Shawn D. Wilson, representing the John Bel Edwards administration, said the governor values faith-based efforts to better communities. He said he would discuss with the group the challenges the state budget poses for Louisiana. He also said when churches take on social causes, they often help in areas where the state, too, has intentions to help.
State Rep. Vincent Pierre, D-Lafayette, said he’s looking for collaborative efforts involving people of faith and governments, especially in drawing people together to fight community ills like crime and ramshackle properties.