Well known local pastor leaving West Louisville
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- A well-known West Louisville pastor -- who has spent the last 10 plus years trying to help reduce the crime and violence -- is leaving the neighborhood.
Rev. Barry Washington is the founding pastor of Redeemed Christian Church at the corner of River Park and Amy in West Louisville.
"We have seen shootings right on the corners," he said. "I have walked out the door and actually had to stops some guys from being somebody up with pistols one year. This has been a wild area."
From break-ins to violent crime, Rev. Washington has seen it all.
"It hurts, man. You turn on the news and hear about killings after killings after killings and we can only do so much," said Washington.
And during his time there, Washington has even been contacted by police to identify some of the same people he has tried to help.
"I had to go up the street and identify a body one year and then on Easter one year, one time we were coming to open up the church and they had tape over across the street and a young man was laying there and his chest was blown out," he explained.
Over the years, Washington has tried to help reduce some of the crime by building a basketball court behind his church, opening youth summer camps and even a restaurant to employ neighborhood youth.
"Just to let them know that, you know, you don't have to do the street thing to make no money, we can go ahead learn how to work a restaurant, get involved in corporate America and then start setting you up for your future," said Washington.
But after a violent 12 years and even threats from his own members, Washington recently told his congregation and neighbors that it is time to go.
"I had some members who, who said some words that I would never forget," Washington said.
He said most understand his decision to move his ministry out of west Louisville.
"They say, Rev., they hear you right now but later on, somebody else is going to come and tell 'em the same thing and they're going to get motivated," explained Washington.
You could see the pain of the decision in his eyes when he sat down with us; especially when he tells us about the reaction of one of his youngest members.
"She said, 'he's leaving me,' and her father said, 'he is not leaving you he is just leaving that place and it hurts, you know, you love people,'" Washington said.
He said, you love people, but admits, they don't always love you back. "Some days, if I had a lot of hair it would probably be pulled out."
We asked Washington if he was giving up on west Louisville. Here's his response, "No, not giving up on the west end, I really love the west end -- some really good people out there, it is just that my time is up down here. I have done -- and believe I have fulfilled my calling down here."
Washington always felt connected to the area because of his own troubled past.
"I was on cocaine and heroin all the way up until age 32 and then by the time I got here to Louisville, I had been, was clean for about three years," he said.
Now, with 20 years of sobriety under his belt and an education, Washington feels he has outgrown his current role.
"Yeah, I got two degrees from Southern Baptist, Boyce Bible College and I am finishing up my masters degree with Newburgh Seminary."
Washington also says he is not the first to leave.
"There were many who started with me and for different reasons -- slowly but surely you start to see them disappearing."
Right now, Washington won't say exactly where he is going, but explained how the decision started.
"There were people who kept coming to me saying the Lord is saying it is time for you to leave, you have fulfilled your calling down here."
Washington's last service here will be on Dec. 20 and he plans to go out just like he came in, feeding the community.
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