In the month since SCUPE announced the 2011 Congress on Urban Ministry, violence in the form of homicide has increased in Chicago (home to the upcoming Congress). A little over a week ago Chicago saw 7 deaths and 18 wounded in one night – predominantly by gunfire. Outbreaks of violence have raised the profile of the issue across the nation, especially in light of two Illinois State Representatives (John Fritchey and LaShawn Ford) making a public plea for Governor Pat Quinn to call in the National Guard to cap the violence. The proposed solution, which isn’t expected to gain much traction with average citizens or government officials, reveals an inability to engage the epidemic of urban violence on anything but a surface level.
As SCUPE continues planning and organizing for March 1 – 4 of next year, we are mindful of the vital potential of this gathering. The theme for the 2011 Congress will be “Peacemaking in a Culture of Violence” and it will seek to address the violence flaring up in our society from a Christian perspective. We believe that the 2011 Congress on Urban Ministry will be one of the most important in the 30 plus year history of the Congress, for rarely has the focus of a Congress aligned so drastically with a pertinent and urgent need in our society.
We cannot effectively respond to the violence in our homes and in our streets if we do not respond to the violence in our culture. By engaging with both the tragic instances of violence and the interconnected systems that promote and sustain this violence, we will expand our vision for action and the effectiveness of our response as Christians.
As Christians we believe that the gospel of Jesus Christ speaks directly to the violence in our lives and in our culture, and that this gathering can be serve both as a refocusing and a re-dedication towards this pressing, radical, and beautiful gospel message.
“So far this year there have been 113 murders reported homicides, according to Chicago police statistics. During that same period New York has had 139 murders and Los Angeles recorded 199, although both cities have larger populations. The number of casualties Chicago has so far this year is only slightly higher than last year at this time, 109, and less than the 134 for the first four months of 2008.”