Crime and Violence Prevention

Make every effort to do what leads to peace. – Romans 14:19

As crime continues to pervade many communities across the nation, it is imperative that churches work to cultivate environments where people can feel safe.  Third Baptist Church, located in one of the poorest zip codes in Toledo, Ohio, is working to combat crime and violence through its Hotspots Card program. 

This 300 member congregation, led by Pastor Kevin Bedford, began to directly address crime in the Toledo area in 2005.  It was that year at the church’s Sweetheart Dance that Pastor Bedford noticed many of his elderly members rushing to arrive home by nine o’clock pm.  Pastor Bedford inquired about people’s urgency for leaving and discovered that many people were fearful of being out after 9pm because of the increase in gang violence that occurred after dark.  He also learned through conversations with other pastors that some churches did not plan programs in the evenings due to people’s fear of being out after dark. 

Third Baptist Church, along with Toledoans United for Social Action (TUSA) began distributing Hotspots cards to local residents.  The Hotspots cards allow residents to anonymously report crime by faxing or e-mailing the cards to the police.  Residents who do not have access to e-mail or fax can call a list of TUSA members who will pick up the cards from their homes and deliver them to the police department.  When the police receive these cards, they dispatch officers to patrol the areas from which the cards were received. 

 The Hotspots Card program has positively impacted the city of Toledo.  The community has experienced a decrease in unsolved crimes due to residents’ willingness to report crime.  Neighborhood residents have also helped the city crack down on illegal activities that occur in abandoned houses.  Speed bumps have been placed in the streets to slow the traffic, and the Toledo Police Department has even opened two precincts in Hotspots areas. 
In order to implement its BIG IDEA to reduce crime, Third Baptist Church partnered with community organizations and leaders.  TUSA, an organization comprised of over 20 churches, works as a liaison between government officials and churches.  TUSA was instrumental in training church leaders on how to seriously engage political officials.  Former Toledo mayor Jack Hayford was also very instrumental in the success of the Hotspots program.  Third Baptist Church has also received funding from the American Baptist Church, USA Office of National Ministries to aid the church in continuing its crime prevention work.    

Although addressing the needs of an urban community can seem overwhelming, Pastor Kevin Bedford believes that church leaders “don’t have to stick our heads in the sand.”  In a time where many people are intimidated by violence and crime, this mid-size church with a BIG IDEA is helping Toledoans reclaim their streets and build safe communities. 


If your church or community is interested in developing a crime or violence prevention program, the following national and community organizations may assist with your project:

Churches with Crime and/or Violence Prevention Ministries:

  • Third Baptist Church
    402 Pinewood Ave
    Toledo, OH 43604
    (419) 248-4623
    Pastor, Kevin Bedford

  • Freedom Missionary Church of Seattle
    9601 35th Ave SW
    Seattle, WA 98126
    (206) 937-1417
    Pastor, Zachary Bruce

  • Sixth Mount Zion Baptist Church
    14 West Duval Street
    Richmond, VA 23220
    (804) 648-7511
    Pastor, Tyron Nelson

  • Union Baptist Church
    874 Main Street
    Cambridge, MA 02139
    (617) 865-6885
    Pastor, Jeffrey L. Brown


  • African American Perspectives:  On Crime Causation, Criminal Justice Administrations and Crime Prevention by Anne T. Sutton

  • Best Practices for Youth and Violence Prevention:  A Sourcebook for Community Action published by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

  • Interpersonal Violence in the African American Community:  Evidence-Based Prevention and Treatment Practices by Robert L. Hampton and Thomas P. Gullotta

  • Making the Peace:  A 15 Session Violence Prevention Curriculum for Young People by Paul Kivel, Allan Creighton, and The Oakland Men’s Project

  • The Pain Didn’t Start Here:  Trauma, Violence, and the African American Community by Denyse Hicks-Ray

  • Prevention Program Development and Evaluation:  An Incidence Reduction, Culturally Relevant Approach by Dr. Robert K. Conyne

  • Ready to Use Violence Prevention Skills: Lessons & Activities for Secondary Students by Ruth Weltmann Begun and  Frank J. Huml

  • Refining Fire:  A Religious Engagement with Violence by Cheryl A. Kirk-Duggan

  • Safety Planning with Battered Women:  Complex Lives/Difficult Choices by Dr. Jill M. Davies, Eleanor Lyon, and Dr. Diane Monti-Catania

  • Understanding and Preventing Violence:  They Psychology of Human Destructiveness by Leighton C. Whitaker

  • Violence and the Prevention of Violence by Leonore Loeb Adler and Florence L. Denmark


2013 Units