Friday, July 20, 2012


Alarmed by the increasing epidemic of violence on the streets of Chicago, The L.E.A.D.E.R.’s Network, a clergy-based social justice advocacy and disaster relief organization, called an emergency meeting with 60 ministers of different denominations, races, and cultural backgrounds from across the city working to determine how the faith community can respond to the escalating violence gripping Chicago’s neighborhoods this summer. The meeting was held at Greater St. John Bible Church, 1256 North Waller Avenue, Reverend Ira J. Acree, Pastor. The summit was facilitated by Pastor Cy Fields of New Landmark M.B. Church and President of The L.E.A.D.E.R.’s Network.            
The pastors recommended creating a Faith Community Clearinghouse highlighting effective programs at other churches and faith-based organizations. Pastor Acree stated, “As I listen to the pastors talk about the number of youth and children’s activities that their churches currently host, I am pleasantly surprised. Many safe havens already exist, but are underutilized due to limited marketing.” This information will be gathered, posted on a website and constantly updated.
Father Michael Pfleger galvanized the clergy’s major concern about the easy availability and volume of guns on the streets, especially assault weapons that are frequently used in fatal shootings. He told the group that the NRA is quietly working to pass legislation that will effectively allow concealed carry of firearms in Illinois and urged the pastors to contact legislators to ensure the measure does not become law.
Pastor Slim Coleman observed that the lack of jobs has created a drug economy that is sustained by the use of guns. Pastor Marshall Hatch of New Mt. Pilgrim M.B. Church added, “Father Pfleger has been on point and passionate about this issue. Moving forward, we will put the support of this group behind him and fight vehemently for sensible gun legislation.”
Pastor Leslie Sanders moderated a discussion about the need for modifications in police strategy and structure to improve community relations and curb violence. Pastor Walter Turner expressed concern that Chicago Public Schools students may not start class on time and that budget cuts will prevent churches from keeping children out of harm’s way during the critical after-school hours. Pastor Jacques Conway challenged faith leaders to confront the entertainment industry about negative influences on youth from violent video games and music lyrics.
Pastor Hatch announced plans for a citywide multi-racial ecumenical Peace Weekend. The event will urge all Chicagoans to attend churches, synagogues, and mosques to promote respect for human life, moral regard, and community mobilization to stop violence. The clergy coalition will become a vehicle to inform the general public about what community-based organizations are doing to make Chicago a safer place.
Larry Greenfield of the American Baptist Churches of Metro Chicago declared, “We’re looking forward to mobilizing our clergy group to help address the violence issue in our city.”
The clergy voted unanimously to adopt the strategic proposals and initiate an implementation plan of action. For information, contact Rev. Cy Fields at, Rev. Ira J. Acree at, or Rev. Marshall Hatch at:

No comments:

Post a Comment