A lively evening ceremony at the Seventh Day Adventists Church on March 12th saw the launch of Burngreave's Street Pastor scheme which aims to provide young people with a caring and supportive service on the street.
Ever since the murder of Jonathan Matondo in 2007, Pastor Andrew Rashford-Hewitt has tried to bring together people from many churches and create a group of people willing to go out and engage with young people.
The night began with Pastor Andrew welcoming the assembled guests, many of whom had supported the scheme from the beginning three years ago. He was joined by members of Sheffield Futures, Shaun Davis from South Yorkshire Police, Mike Pargeter, coordinator of Havering Street Pastors and Bishop Lynette Melville from Shiloh Church, Burngreave, all of whom voiced their support for the project to operate in Burngreave. Street Pastors has been operating in some of the UK's biggest cities such as London, Birmingham, and Glasgow to reduce crime.
Vernon Collymore of Sheffield Futures congratulated Pastor Andrew on his efforts to make this the first such scheme in the whole of Sheffield and offered him the backing and assistance of Sheffield Futures whenever their help is needed. Community Support Officer, Shaun Davis, added his voice of support to the initiative and hoped that something could be done as soon as possible to guide teenagers towards more positive futures.
Mike Pargeter explained that the role of a street pastor is not to preach “Heaven and Hell” but to help and support young people, adding that their job is not to talk about Jesus Christ but to help young people and the community. After these words of encouragement, Pastor Andrew asked the assembled Street Pastors, all from different churches from around Sheffield, to gather at the front. He asked the audience to pray and bless them for their work before they commenced their duties on the streets. They were then presented with their own uniform and hat to help the public identify them as helpful and supportive individuals.
Bishop Lynette Melville asked all the Pastors to swear an undertaking to help everyone they meet during their work, before Pastor Andrew closed the event with a thank you to all who had attended and supported the initiative during the difficult moments up to this final launch. He added that anyone who wants to join the scheme would be welcome.