Black Faith Groups Have Been Fighting Neighborhood Gun Violence for Decades. They’re Finally Getting Support.

Indianapolis hit record-high murder rates in recent years, breaking the all-time record in 2021 with 251 homicides, making it one of the most violent cities per capita in the United States. The spike reflects a national increase in gun violence during the pandemic that experts attribute to a range of factors including disruption in people’s work and personal lives, an increase in gun sales, and mental health issues.

But the city is now in the midst of a promising experiment, led by faith leaders, with politicians, police, and residents all committed to reducing gun violence.

The city government’s program to combat gun violence is a yearslong effort that has required unflagging community organizing and building the political clout of neighborhood residents. Spearheaded by the nonprofit Faith in Indiana, the program is showing encouraging preliminary findings; the city has seen a 15 percent year-on-year homicide reduction. Faith in Indiana — whose $1.5 million annual budget is funded in part by the Ford and Robert Wood Johnson foundations, the Heartland Fund, and other philanthropic organizations — is part of the multifaith, multiracial national network Faith in Action.

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