February may still seem like quite a ways away but, remembering how quickly the holiday season flies by, we want to make sure that this great event got onto everyone’s calendar. Especially if you are locating in the Chicagoland area, you will not want to miss this reflection upon the role of faith in combating racism.
The 2011 Stanley J. Hallett lecture will look at the life of Father Michael Pfleger through the eyes of award winning journalist Robert McClory and his new book “Radical Disciple”. The title of the lecture is “Faith and Racism in Chicago: the Fight for Social Justice” and it will take place at Loyola University on
February 3, 2011. Both McClory and Father Pfleger will be present and offer perspectives on how the church community can change the face of the city.
As we continue preparations for the 2011 Congress on Urban Ministry (of which Father Pfleger is Co-chair along with Rev. James A. Forbes) we here at SCUPE are pleased to see people of faith reexamining the church’s role in addressing major societal issues like racism. For too long the church has ignored its calling to name, confront, and resist the evils that do not reside primarily in the individual but within systems, cultures, and institutions. While the majority of the church has become highly attuned to addressing sin and salvation on an individual level we have relegated this calling to wrestle with Powers and Principalities to small groups at the fringes of the church who engage in an increasingly isolating struggle.
It is people such as this that the Congress on Urban Ministry has served. The Congress is a crucial gathering for leaders, students, and churches who are responding to a call to serve the forgotten parts of the city, to speak Gospel with a spirit which we have stifled, and to dismantle persistent societal ills like racism, poverty, xenophobia, and violence.
Our 2011 theme, Peacemaking in a Culture of Violence, reminds us that to be disciples of Jesus, the one whom we claim as the Prince of Peace, is to be actively engaged in the struggle for peace for all peoples.
We look forward to this Hallett lecture as it will certainly help us to wrestle with the meaning of this Christian vocation to peacemaking.
Holy Family Lutheran Church in Chicago, IL
Hosting out-of-town ministry tour groups has become one of my side-lines here in Chicago. While ministry tours involve a good bit of scheduling and patience, they also provide me with great discoveries! I get to see how God and his people are meeting the needs of many Chicagoans. Here’s a sample of my “discoveries” during summer 2010.
- The Greater Chicago Food Depository distributes food items to more than 650 pantries, soup kitchens and shelters serving 678,000 people. From its enormous warehouse on Chicago’s southwest side, the Food Depository distributed enough food last year to serve 135,000 meals every day!
- While some local churches have closed or moved away, Chicago’s Holy Family Lutheran Church continues to carry on a heroic ministry in the city’s former Cabrini Green Community. Rev. Leslie Hunter, youth director and assistant minister at Holy Family Church, carries on an intensive ministry through preaching, teaching, community involvement and spoken-word poetry.
- When 25 teenagers and sponsors are hungry in the middle of a busy day of urban discovery, there’s no food better than the “dogs and polish” at Jim’s Original Hot Dogs on Maxwell Street (actual location is 1250 S. Union Avenue, but who’s counting street numbers!) You get the most and best dogs and fries in Chicago for $3.50!
- Chicago’s Lawndale Christian Health Center provides optometric, dental, fitness and general medical care for over 119,000 patients each year at three sites in the city’s Lawndale neighborhood. Lawndale Health Center maintains a staff of over 50 healthcare personnel who provide the comprehensive, quality care.
- Breakthrough Urban Ministries conducts an intensive array of ministries in Chicago’s challenging East Garfield Park Community. Founded in the 1990’s by Dr. Arloa Sutter (http://arloasutter.blogspot.com/), Breakthrough is now serving men, women and children in areas of job training and readiness, tutoring, child care, food distribution, Christian counseling and Bible studies. Their two west side shelters meet housing needs for nearly 1,000 Chicagoans annually.
Want to be surprised by what God is doing in your city, or your neighborhood? If so, don’t hesitate to get in touch with me at: roger(at)scupe.com. I can lead or go along for the ride. Chances are that I’ll be able to suggest a few good places for you and your group to start!
– Roger Johnson
Church Relations Coordinator, SCUPE