* Photo by Kageaki Smith. Tribute: Crowds gather at last night’s candlelight vigil in memory of killed Kumi Harford.
* Photo by Kageaki Smith. Tribute: Crowds gather at last night’s candlelight vigil in memory of killed Kumi Harford.
Church leaders are pleading with the community to work together to prevent further violence.

In the aftermath of Friday's shooting, they are asking groups working to rebuild the North Village to unite and have a greater impact.

Nicholas Dill, priest in charge at St. John's in Pembroke, believes "there is a sense of competition (among community action groups) as they are all vying for the same clientele but none working together".

Reverend Dill added: "The murder of Kumi Harford leaves a vestige of fear - a pall or covering over the whole community.

"It was this time last year we began a community meeting in the St. Monica's area with local churches, community groups, sports clubs and police to discuss how to move forward in re-building the community."

Rev. Dill admitted this initiative never really got off the ground but recent events "galvanized us again to meet and re-start the process".

Meetings have now been held with other church groups and invitations sent to Christian leaders - including those at House of Prayer, Grace Methodist, North Shore Gospel, Salvation Army and First Church - plus community groups such as Imagine Bermuda, Boulevard Sports Club and North Village Community Club.

Others to be approached include local activists, the Community Police Action Group and the Caines brothers Wayne, Dwayne and Travis, who recently launched an anti-violence movement focusing on mentoring and mediation.

Rev. Dill said the densely populated North Village community has a history of crime and poverty.

He added: "As you stand on top of the hill and look down you can see seven churches - yet you see a whole range of issues, including violence that has erupted but now has reached an acute stage with gangs."

Rev. Dill also spoke of the irony of when they gather for Sunday services.

He said: "The guys are on the wall week by week and, although civil to us - they even ask the clergy to pray for them - there is a massive disconnect between the meetings of the seven congregations in a community where there is fear, violence and breakdown of a whole set of social and community structures."

Rev. Dill said Kumi Harford "had a history at St. Monica's youth club and a much closer connection with the Heard Chapel family."

Last night's prayer vigil at the murder scene was "a quick response" said Rev. Dill.

He added they were "praying together for a way forward. To bring a sense of a new way and throw a different light onto the situation".

Church leaders plan to visit the neighbourhood this Saturday, house by house, to pray and give out prayer cards and a booklet called God's Promises To You.

Rev. Dill said: "This is a way to meet the residents and assure them they are not alone and that we want to be here to help with our prayers and presence."

A community meeting is planned for Thursday, December 17 at Heard Chapel, 42 The Glebe Road, from 12pm to 2pm,

Everyone is welcome to attend and the event will focus on ways to work together to rebuild the North Village.

It is also hoped a community day can be organised for early in the New Year.

Rev. Dill said: "There is only so much a police force can do.

"This is not a St. Monica issue or a gang issue but it is a collective issue."

He added that the weak and those on the margins of society are everyone's problem but that church leaders "have a high calling to be involved - not just to preach about it, but meet with others face to face."