Byline: John Carter, Staff writer
You might say he's trying to stick to his guns to improve the quality of life in some Northside communities.
The Rev. John E. Guns, charismatic leader of the St. Paul Community Empowerment Center, recently held a "special celebration" at which he told the membership he's proud of the outreach efforts of the center he started in 1996.
Thousands of people have benefited from the center's services during the past eight years, said Guns, who is also senior pastor of St. Paul Missionary Baptist Church.
"Each year, our programs reach 2,000 people," he said. "We're affecting and changing a lot of people's lives, and we've had a positive and profound impact on the community."
At the large gathering of center members and supporters, Guns said he sees success for the St. Paul Community Empowerment Center, but that city and state funding alone won't be enough to keep the center operating.
"For this center to continue to be effective in the 21st century, we'll need support from more people and businesses in this community," he said. "We'll need to raise half a million dollars to build a new building for our center. That facility will allow us to have a much larger computer training center and expand our reach."
Guns said the center would be built on 25 acres behind the St. Paul Missionary Baptist Church.
"The St. Paul Community Empowerment Center is clearly the most effective community outreach effort in Jacksonville. We want to grow so that we can help more people," he said.
Guns spent much of the meeting discussing the effectiveness of the four programs the center runs to "give people the experience and skills to help them improve their lives. …