Just like Redding, Chico is trying to solve its downtown problems of crime and homelessness. Some pastors think it's time to bring God into the mix. A faith-based program successful in the United Kingdom is coming to the United States and Chico is the first city to try it.
Chico clergy hope to put a collar around the city's well-publicized problems that have befallen downtown Chico.
Bill Such, the executive director of the Jesus Center is organizing a posse of "Street Pastors." It's a group of men and women who will walk the streets of downtown from 10 pm until 4 am. They'll speak with homeless and transients, bringing them a message from above.
"What we do is we love strangers, that is the view of who we are," said Such. "Deep down , of course, is what we want to say is that Jesus, we believe,is the answer to everyone's life. so we want to be able to express that. but we do it through caring and listening to helping the person in whatever the situation may be."
"Street Pastors" originated in the United Kingdom. Eustace Constance is the program's operations manager and said Chico is the first U.S. city to try it.
"You've got to be a person who is actually concerned for your community," said Constance. "And that you believe God can actually use you to make a change."
You don't need to be ordained to be a street pastor, but must be in good standing with a church, possess good judgement and a kind heart. It requires 50 hours of training.
Street pastors will wear labeled uniforms. The idea was applauded by every pastor at a recent meeting including Rev. Matthew Raley of Grace Brethren Church.
"There's a need for street pastors," said Raley. "You not only see it downtown, you see it all over town."
The pastors will hit Chico's streets in about three weeks. If you're interested in applying to become a street pastor, call The Jesus Center a call.