NEWPORT, AR (KAIT) - Chosen Generation Ministries in Newport is one of many African-American churches across the country that hosted a black out service on Sunday.
The peaceful demonstrations are in response to recent police shootings and violence that has gained national attention.
Pastor Anthony Coleman said he felt it was important not only to highlight national issues, but local issues as well.
"I felt it was necessary for this generation here in this city and area to not just see what's on TV but also be a part of it," he said.
He urges young black men to take action and make changes in their communities that could also reflect in the state.
"We see a lot of things happening in Ferguson, in St. Louis, but there are things right here in our backyard that I think we need to bring attention to," he said.
Pastor Coleman said those changes don't have be triggered by violence.
"We don't have to retaliate with guns, we don't have to retaliate with rioting, we don't have to retaliate with vandalism and stealing and other things," Coleman said. "We can retaliate by praising god and thanking god for where we are and believing god is going to take us beyond this place. I want those young men not to fight, but to praise."
He said although the hands up gesture is known from these recent incidents, he told his members to use it to represent the church.
"Spiritually as a church we believe that our fight is god's fight," he said.
Pastor Coleman said a mentorship program is in the works right now to help more young black men become more active in the community.
"We can teach them how to become great citizens," Coleman said. "How they should walk with their pants up, have a nice haircut, look and talk good so they won't have to feel as though when they're talking to someone they're being treated differently or they won't have to be afraid of police officers or the civil servants of our community because we need them."
Pastor Coleman said that mentorship program is expected to begin next month.
He said his church members are proud to participate in today's black out.
"We're making a difference right here in Newport, right here in this local area to say we matter," Coleman said.