Perhaps having a little faith is the answer to curbing the spiraling death count among Philly's youth.

At least that's what the Rev. Marguerite E. Handy, executive director of the Mayor's Office of Faith-Based Initiatives, envisioned when she called for a conflict resolution training session tomorrow at the Municipal Services Building.

"This was for pastors and faith-based leaders, but we were then asked to open it up to block captains, the new truant officer-parents and the Town Watch people so they can get this kind of training under their belt," said Handy.

"We want them to be sure, if they get into a situation, that we know how to handle ourselves and help reduce the violence in this city."

Handy, who is also an ordained minister of the African Methodist Episcopal Church, firmly believes that it will take a grassroots approach by a cross-section of the city's faith leaders to quell the surging violence.

To that end, she has invited a diverse group of leaders to the training session, including the Rev. Bonnie Camarda, president of the Hispanic Clergy of Philadelphia, Rodney Muhammad, of the Nation of Islam, Rabbi Michael Holzman, of Congregation Rodeph Shalom, the Rev. Steven Thorne, of the Black Catholics of the Archdiocese of Philadelphia and the Rev. Ken Matthies, of the Unitarian Society of Germantown.

"I'm not concerned with denomination, but us coming together and reducing violence in our respective areas," said Handy, who noted that she has wide-ranging support from city officials, including Mayor Street, Managing Director Pedro Ramos and Police Commissioner Sylvester Johnson.

"These are our children and families."

Handy has realistic goals for this training.

"I am positive that I will see these leaders take this back to their various communities and denominations, and we begin to work as a team" to combat the violence, Handy said. *