Columbia, SC (WLTX) -- A coalition of different denominations and faith-based organizations met to discuss gun violence in the Midlands.
Friday morning, Columbia Mayor Steve Benjamin described the challenge of preventing gun violence as a war inside our communities.
According to the mayor's office, in 2012 the City of Columbia saw 432 gun related crimes: five of those homicides, six sexual assaults, 183 aggravated assaults, and 238 robberies.
At First Nazareth Church, where churches and faith-based groups pray, finding meaning in some of life's most difficult questions, a group of city and church leaders are focused specifically on gun violence.
Eldnor Summers says he used to work at a funeral home in the Midlands. He says working there, he saw the deadly effects of guns has on families in the community.
"I wanted to come out today because I was concerned about the gun violence in the community and throughout the United states," said Summers.
Mayor Benjamin says Columbia Police took 500 illegal firearms off the streets last year. The mayor says he is hopeful today's conversation will spark change.
"We are in a war for the souls of our children and our communities," said Columbia Mayor Steve Benjamin. "The statistics speak for themselves. It's important that we don't run from it that we embrace the challenge."
Bishop Jonathan Holston says with the violence we've seen at places like Sandy Hook and Aurora, his church wants to go on the offensive.
"What can we do actively to make a different in the places that we worship, the places in which we live, and how can those actions make a difference in the community?"
An open discussion that aims to enlighten youth and adults who turn to violence instead of peace.
The Gun Violence Prevention Sabbath starts this Weekend and runs through Sunday. The sabbath is led by Faiths United, a coalition of nearly 50 denominations and faith-based organizations.