NEWORLEANS-- Pastor John Raphael, the influential anti-violence crusader and leader of New Hope Baptist Church in Central City, has died.
He passed away after a battle with cancer.
A former New Orleans police officer, Raphael was well-known for trying to stem the violence in New Orleans, including placing his signature 'Thou Shall Not Kill' and 'Enough' signs in yards and neutral grounds throughout the city -- especially in neighborhoods ravaged by street violence.
'This morning my heart is heavy as the city of New Orleans mourns the death of Pastor John C. Raphael, Jr. of New Hope Baptist Church,' Mayor Mitch Landrieu said. 'I have personally relied on the wisdom and counsel of Pastor Raphael over the years, not just because of what he said, but because of how he lived. Pastor Raphael will be dearly missed.'
'Whether he was preaching on the corner, fasting for days on MLK, mentoring young people, or challenging us all to do more to end the death and violence on our streets, Pastor Raphael was consistent and responsible in challenging us all to do our part to reflect the love of God and improve our city. May our thoughts and prayers be with the Raphael and New Hope families.'
Raphael was known for taking his message of anti-violence to the very streets plagued by killings, sometimes with an amplifier hooked to a car generator so he could preach from a microphone with a bible in hand. Along with his frequent anti-violence message, Raphael was known to console the family members of victims as well.