Category Archives: act locally

St. Sabina Community March & Rally

Saint Sabina Community March and Rally

Last year I had the opportunity to participate in this end-of-the-school-year community march & rally.  It was a moving and empowering experience.  I hope that someday soon we have no need for these sort of events but, until that day, lets get out in the streets and pray and act for peace.

The kick-off starts at Saint Sabina Church at 7pm.  Friday, June 17th, 2011.

Let’s increase the peace Chicago!


Empowering Students to Confront Violence

In the aftermath of the shooting of a peer, young people in Evanston, IL came to Sharon Weeks and asked,

“What are we supposed to do?
Who is going to speak for us?”

Evanston IL anti-violence march and rally

When Sharon Weeks signed up for the 2011 Congress on Urban Ministry as a part of SCUPE’s class for seminary students she didn’t know what she was getting herself into.  Come Thursday morning she would be one of the 300 Congress attendees at an anti-violence rally in front of the Illinois state building.

Sharon describes the rally as transformative:

“I was so excited I didn’t know what to do with myself… It was already something that I stood for and believe, in and to see so many other people feeling that same way… I was exhilarated!”

Anti-violence march and rally in Evanston ILA couple days later, when students from Evanston Township High School came to Sharon, she told them of her experience of public witnessing against violence at the Congress and they jumped on the idea.

Within minutes the students were busy creating signs and t-shirts, calling and texting friends, and planning for the march.  For Sharon it was clear that the students saw the march as “a way they could get the community to pitch in and understand that they don’t want to be target”

The march proved to be a great success in gathering the community around youth violence. In a few short days, students had mobilized a large cadre of support.  Along with strong participation from students and community members also in attendance were:  the Mayor of Evanston, the Evanston School District Superintendent, teachers, business owners, police officers, several aldermen, and the President and Dean of Students of Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary.

The group plans to continue the work of strategically confronting, addressing, and educating the community on youth violence by organizing forums, workshops, classes for parents, and by including students at area Middle Schools and Alternative Schools in the anti-violence efforts.

Evanston IL students and communty march for peaceSharon Weeks is the sponsor for two of the youth groups that sponsored the march: the Evanston Township High School chapter of the NAACP and the Youth Works Committee for the city of Evanston.

When young people came to her looking for their voice Sharon Weeks told them, “Speak for yourself and tell people how you’re feeling” – and then she gave them the tools to do just that.

For Sharon Weeks, being a part of empowering young people is part of being open in faith to God’s moving. When asked about her role, Sharon simply replies: “God, this is you.”

Work to End Gun Violence

Youth Art from the Illinois Council Against Handgun Violence

C. Dionte, 4th-grade

Are you an Illinois resident looking for a quick and easy way to work for peace?  Stand with Governor Quinn by opposing the proliferation of guns.

H.B. 148, which allows individuals to carry concealed, loaded guns in most public places, is moving through the Illinois General Assembly.  This bill may be voted on any day now.

If you have 60 seconds you can contact your legislator through this convenient form:

Illinois Campaign to Prevent Gun ViolenceThe Illinois Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence is also a great place to learn about gun issues and how to advocate for better public policy.  At their site you can:

  • get up-to-date facts and statistics
  • see recent polling data
  • learn tactics, tips, and tools for advocacy
  • connect with resources for youth
  • receive guidelines for contacting your elected officials
  • see sample e-mails, phone scripts, and letters to the editor

Imagine if every state had an organization like ICPGV! Two other wonderful regional anti-violence organizations are WAVE in Wisconsin and Citizens for a Safer Minnesota in, you guessed it, Minnesota.

Anybody know of other top notch anti-violence or public policy advocacy organizations?

Gov. Quinn Opposes Conceal and Carry for IL

2011 Congress rally at Thompson CenterTwo months ago, almost to the day, the SCUPE Congress stood outside in the still-cold Chicago air and publicly opposed conceal and carry legislation.

Proposed H.B. 148 would make it legal for a citizen to carry a concealed, loaded gun into almost every public space.  The impact of this bill become apparent once you start to think about places where loaded guns would be allowed: parks, malls, hospitals, gyms, banks, restaurants, public restrooms, subway trains and buses… Loaded guns could quickly become as ubiquitous as app-laden smart phones (and make the i-gun app even more ridiculously redundant).

Or, maybe we can all just start carrying these around?Nokia Gun-phone

This morning SCUPE president Shanta Premawardhana and I were invited to attend Governor Quinn’s press conference.  Standing with him at the podium were to twenty-some members of the Illinois Anti-Violence Commission… each of whom has experienced loss in their lives due to gun violence.

Governor Quinn opposing conceal and carry ILWe were pleased to hear that the Commission had unanimously decided to oppose the current conceal and carry legislation.  Though the context was political, the tragic human cost of violence was lifted up through moving testimonies by several members of the Commission including: Rev. Phil Blackwell from Chicago Temple, the new Illinois State Police Director Hiram Grau, and Jennifer Loudon (widow of slain Chicago Police Office Thor Soderber).

Citing the public opinion of a large majority of IL residents (65% by the most recent poll) Governor Quinn then stated his opposition to the bill and, most importantly, his willingness to veto the bill should it make its way to his desk.

Kudos to Governor Quinn for taking a stand!

This bill may be voted on any day now.  Join us in standing against this dangerous legislation:

Letter to Cardinal George

The following is a letter to Cardinal George signed by Pastors of 14 Black Catholic Parishes in Chicago.  This document, as well as other correspondence relating to Father Michael Pfleger’s suspension, is available on the website of the Faith Community of Saint Sabina.

Letter to Cardinal George regarding Father PflegerLetter to Cardinal George regarding Father Pfleger

Let Father Pfleger stay at Saint Sabina

Walter's Perspective CBS Chicago Father Pfleger

Last night CBS Chicago aired a segment of Walter’s Perspective, with Walter Jacobson.  The segment addressed the recent consideration of Cardinal George and the Archdiocese of Chicago to remove Father Michael Pfleger from the Faith Community of Saint Sabina.

The move would go against the wishes of Father Pfleger, the wishes congregation itself, and, as Jacobson points out, the wishes of the the community Saint Sabina is a part of.  The wishes and vision of the community seem like an important perspective – one that is frequently ignored in a world of corporate driven paradigms for church leadership and hierarchy from outside and above.

Father Pfleger meets attendees at the 2011 Hallett Lecture

Fr. Pfleger meets attendees at the 2011 Hallett Lecture

As SCUPE has always had context driven theology at its core, this perspective of those in the context, is one we believe needs to be heard and taken into account.  Two night ago, before the Hallett Lecture at Loyola University, I walked across the street the the offices of the Archdiocesan offices and hand delivered two letters expressing this point from my personal perspective.  I hope that the Cardinal and church leadership will be open to the voice of the congregation, community, and the Spirit in their deliberation on the future of Father Pfleger and Saint Sabina.

Please consider lending your voice in support of Father Pfleger and Saint Sabina by writing to these two individuals:

Francis Cardinal George
Archdiocese of Chicago
835 North Rush Street
Chicago, IL 60611
312-534-8219 Office
312-534-6379 Fax

Priest’s Placement Board
Archdiocese of Chicago
835 North Rush Street
Chicago, IL 60611
312-534-5270 Office
312-534-5281 Fax

Letter from the Deputy Governor of Illinois

2011 Congress Anti-violence Vigil at Thompson Center

Minutes after the Congress concluded yesterday, we received a letter from the Deputy Governor of Illinois Ms. Cristal Thomas. It does not commit the Governor to oppose specific legislation such as “concealed carry” that is currently before the Illinois house, but at least acknowledges our visit. She re-states what she said to the delegation who visited her that the “Governor is fully committed to reducing violence in our state.” During the visit I said to her that those who propose “concealed carry” are also for reducing violence. The question is, whether he will reduce violence by reducing guns on our streets.

Still it is good to get an acknowledgment. But it is only the first step. Our work has just begun!

– Rev. Dr. Shanta Premawardhana