An Indiana pastor who's overwhelmed by the violence plaguing his city is taking a creative approach to address the escalating murder rate in Indianapolis by showcasing a "dummy in a casket" display to reveal the devastating aftermath families are left with when a child is killed as a casualty of criminal gang violence.
Pastor Anthony Pippens of Greater New Hope Church started using the dummy in a casket two years ago in his street ministry and has been setting up the display in various parts of his community.
"[The goal with the display is] to make a shocking and profound statement concerning the things that are going on in our community as far as black on black crime is concerned," said Pippens to The Christian Post.
The display includes a regular casket that would normally be purchased for burial in which Pippens has placed a dummy that he's named Duke.
"It's not designed to scare anyone. It's designed to make a statement and bring people closer to the reality of living without thinking. The dummy doesn't have the ability to think and we [humans] have the ability to think, but when we don't think then we are in the same capacity as a dummy," he said.
Speaking about the wreckless attitudes that've bred rampant gun violence, drug use and drug dealing in his community, Pippens asserted that not thinking about one's actions as a young person could be "very costly" when it concerns lives.
"A lot of people have responded to it in a very positive way," he said."I've watched people have conversations with their kids in the presence of the casket with the dummy in it teaching life lessons. The value of living life the right way."
On Sept. 26 the pastor and his church will hold what he described as a "grand finale" display of the casket.
Violence in Indianapolis is on the rise, and during the last few weeks of August there were seven murders committed in just five days, according to The Indy Channel.
The killings prompted the meeting of more than 24 community leaders who gathered on Tuesday Aug. 25 to seek out solutions to the growing problem.
The leaders included pastors and Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department Chief Rick Hite.
"We're on the cusp of change in our city," said Hite. "It's going to take a while to see all that you want to see, but what you are going to see is a concerted effort of the police and community working together."