Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Pastor Hopes New Center Can Help Area

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Pastor Hopes New Center Can Help Area

Article excerpt

Byline: John Carter, Times-Union staff writer

Only a few weeks after starting an outreach center in Arlington, the founder hosted a luncheon for community leaders.

For the most part, what they chewed on were ways to preserve the neighborhood, make it safer and improve employment opportunities for those in low-income areas.

"One of the main things I've learned in providing community services is that we have to become proactive by first being reactive," the Rev. John D. Perry II, founder of the Voice of Life Outreach Center on Justina Road, told that gathering.

"We need to look closely at current problems and dilemmas . . . really look at the root causes. Then we need to use that information to project the prospects of the future."

Perry said it was "a spiritual vision" that made him start the Voice of Life Outreach Center. He chose the name for the center and his ministry because he says he wants to help others become more positive and become a "voice of life in a dying world."

Perry developed an interest in community service while serving as assistant pastor to the Rev. John Guns, whose St. Paul Missionary Baptist Church created the growing St. Paul Empowerment Center on the Northside.

The meeting Thursday was attended by civic leaders, pastors, community center directors and neighborhood association leaders, including Beverly Hamilton of Volunteer Jacksonville; Christine Tyler, community services director at Jacksonville University; Chief Rick Townsend of the Jacksonville Sheriff's Office; former state Rep. Willye Dennis; former state Rep. Tony Hill; and Janet Curry, outreach director of the Arlington Family YMCA.

Diedra Shelton, director of the Voice of Life Outreach Center, told the group that Perry is not only "a visionary" but also "puts his feet on the street."

"Dr. Perry runs men's group meetings," she said. …

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