Pastor John Raphael, founder of the New Hope Baptist church in New Orleans' Central City neighborhood, has died of cancer, according to WWL-TV. He was 60 years old.
Raphael, a former New Orleans cop, devoted his energy to preaching against violent crime.
He led a campaign to post signs around the city reading, "Thou Shalt Not Kill."
New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu has released a statement on Raphael:
"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. 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."
Watch a video the church produced showing Raphael and his fight against violence: