JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - One day after the jury failed to come to a decision on Michael Dunn's first-degree murder charge, a local pastor is encouraging his congregation to act.
Pastor John Guns was in the courtroom when the verdict came down. He rallied his congregation Sunday at St. Paul Missionary Baptist Church to work for change, not only in their own homes and families, but their communities.
He decided to deliver the message after sitting in on the Dunn trial and hearing Dunn had not been found guilty of murder after shooting and killing 17-year-old Jordan Davis.
"My message is simple: We will not rest until stand your ground is dealt with appropriately," Guns said. "Secondly, this numbness, this mixed emotion, we're not going to turn it into a reason to be cynical.
Guns told those who filled the church, many disappointed in the jury's decision, that it will take more than marching to create change.
Guns told them it has to be done intelligently and systematically, by learning the laws, organizing and collaborating. Guns says it's also about teaching young people how to handle potentially violent situations.
"I have to be conscious of who's around me, because at any time, that could have been me just at the gas station, filling up the tank, about to just go to the movies somewhere with my friends, and pow, I'm gone," said Kamren Mackey, who attends the church.
Guns brought up some of the young men he's been working with through his group "Operation Save Our Sons."
The group's vice chair, Channel 4 Crime and Safety Analyst Ken Jefferson and his teenage son, joined Guns. He shared how the trial and verdict affected their relationship.
"I just showed my affection more and more simply because I realize that life is very precious," Jefferson said. "We have to guard it, we have to protect it at all cost, as much as we can."
Guns said he hopes the congregation will see his words as more than just words, but instead a call to action -- fighting for what he believes is right, and motivating others to do the same, all in an effort to improve life for everyone in his community.
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