In preparation for this week’s cover story, I spoke with Angela Parker about her experience with Patty Ringo and Greater St. John Bible Church’s culinary ministry. She also spoke about how the West Side congregation has confronted the city’s violence. 

I grew up in Greater St. John Bible Church in Austin. My mom moved me to that church when I was a year old. I’ve been in Austin my whole life. 
Many of our members have been affected by gun violence in the city. We’ve had shootings a block away from our church. When people are on their way to the church, they can see murder scenes. One time, a member was walking some ladies home from church at night and he got shot. Fortunately, he survived. He lives right across the street from the church. 
I’ve even experienced walking to Bible study or rehearsal in fear, hoping I won’t get shot. 
We have anti-violence marches, where our whole congregation marches down the street. One of our members started a mentoring program that tries to encourage kids to do the right things. 
The fear is definitely real, but it makes my heart lighter to know that we can come together and do something about this. We don’t have to wait on the police chief or the mayor. It’s all about coming together to comfort our own, as well as people we know in the neighborhood.