Tag Archives: Chicago

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!


Neighborhood pt. II

the Lexington Hotel - Al Capone's headquarters

The 2011 Congress hotel, the Hyatt Regency McCormick Place is considered part of the Near South Side.  The Near South Side, located just south of downtown, has probably seen as dramatic change and redevelopment as any Chicago community.  For a good brief on its unique and turbulent history check out the Electronic Encyclopedia of Chicago entry.

The Hyatt McCormick Place is also just north of Bronzeville, part of the South Side.  Chicago’s South Side has long had a distinct identity.  Often identified in the second half of the twentieth century with the city’s African American population, it has actually accommodated remarkable diversity.  For a good brief on its unique and turbulent history check out the Electronic Encyclopedia of Chicago entry.

2011 Congress Hotel - Hyatt McCormick Place

We encourage participants of the 2011 Congress on Urban Ministry to reserve a room at the Hyatt and take advantage of the wonderful facilities and proximity to all of the Congress program and events.  It will be the hub of all Congress activities and of the gathered community.

About Neighborhood pt. I

Neighborhood is important.

The word not only signals the community that builds itself up in a particular place or topos – it also signifies context.  Walk down any city sidewalk or backwoods path and you are walking over history.  The particular feel of a place can be so strong that you can, well, feel it…

As we prepare for the 2011 Congress on Urban Ministry we’ve been getting to know a neighborhood just to the south of downtown.  We’ve walked it sidewalks and biked its roads and back alleys in search of the restaurants, attractions, and hidden gems of this oft overlooked neighborhood.  In the meantime we’ve stumbled upon a remarkable history that still whispers its unique mixture of splendor, vibrancy, and struggle from bricks and mortar.  We’ll have a bit more on the history of the neighborhood tomorrow, for now, check out the hidden gems we encountered:

Local Attractions Map

1. Lakeshore Trail – Walking/Running Path
2. National Vietnam Veteran’s Art Museum
3. Chicago Women’s Park & Garden
4. Lakeside Bank Branch
5. Second Presbyterian Church
6. Willie Dixon’s Blues Garden/Formerly Chess Records Studio
7. Former Site of Lexington Hotel (Al Capone)
8. Historic Motor Row Automobile District
9. Trinity Episcopal Church
10. Chinatown Neighborhood
11. CTA Red Line – Cermak/Chinatown Stop
12. Closest CTA Bus Stop & Metra McCormick Place Station
13. The Shrine Night Club
14. Reggie’s Music Joint & Rock Club
15. Historic Bronzeville Neighborhood

Local Restaurants

In addition to the food and beverage options here within the Hyatt, consider venturing out into the neighborhood to find some of the hidden jems of Chicago’s Near South Side.  This map details 20 food options within short to moderate walking distance.  Cabs and busses also operate along Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Drive and can take you up Michigan Ave. directly to the heart of downtown Chicago: the Loop.

1. Triad Sushi Lounge
2. La Cantina Mexican Restaurant & Tequila Bar
3. Kroll’s Bar & Grill
4. Cafe Society Coffeehouse
5. McCormick Place Foodcourt
6. McDonald’s
7. Burger King
8. Pizzeria Brandi
9. Chef Luciano Gourmet Chicken
10. White Castle
11. Harold’s Chicken Shack
12. Liang’s Kitchen Chinese Food
13. J & J Fish & Chicken
14. Cafe Biondia Italien Restaurant
15. Opart Thai House Restaurant
16. South Loop Market Grocheries
17. South Coast Sushi Bar
18. Green Leaf Food Market Groceries
19. Dunkin’ Doughnuts
20. Chinatown Neighborhood (numerous options)


You can be a Peacemaker

You Can Be A Peacemaker 2011 Congress on Urban Ministry

Check out this new video for the 2011 Congress.  I just love that last sign: You Can Be a Peacemaker!

The Call towards Peace

Called towards Peace in a Culture of Violence

[originally published in the 2/11 issue of the Concord, the literary journal of Luther Seminary – St. Paul, MN]
[painting by Alex Roulette]

Driving past that spot became a sort of ritual for me – a litany my body would recite.  An act of devotion to a child who had been gunned down on a sidewalk I couldn’t, for the life of me, distinguish from the others around it.  A sidewalk I couldn’t distinguish from those I had grown up on two states away.

Weeks earlier the evening news had described details more concretely: South Side of Chicago, 15-year-old African American boy, sophomore in high school, robbed at gun point, fatally shot in the chest.  Within hours of the initial report he had a name: Marquell Blake.

In any sensible world these details alone would have been enough to unhinge an average day.  Chicago though, like many American cities, has been awash in tragic details all too similar to these in recent years.  By April, Marquell Blake was the 32nd Chicago Public School student shot and killed in the 2008-2009 school year.  Several journalists had already remarked that the death rate of students from Chicago was 24 times higher than that of soldiers from Chicago serving in combat zones in Iraq.

Even so, it wasn’t until I heard the final detail that something shook loose within me: 7700 block of South Carpenter Avenue.  This shooting had occurred a mere four blocks from the church where I had been doing my internship for a Masters in Urban Ministry through SCUPE and Luther Seminary.  Something about the proximity to a place that had become dear and personal to me through daily work and connections meant that I couldn’t just excuse this as just another tragedy in another part of town.

In Auburn Gresham I had heard the stories of the diligent work of tireless community members to better their neighborhood, had heard the sermons and the press conferences calling city and church leaders to no longer simply provide the vigils and eulogies after acts of violence but to actively work to prevent violence.  This was a community like all of the others I had lived in: people cared for each other and came together to address mutual concerns.

Suddenly, I came to see that I had been sold a false bill of goods.  Since childhood, I had been taught that some neighborhoods were safe and some weren’t.  It was implied that, as long as I stayed within the respectable racial, cultural, and socio-economic borders I would float through life excused from the impact of violence.  This de facto division of the world into safe and not safe, into good neighborhoods and sketchy neighborhoods, was as a veil drawn over my eyes.

In a flood, I recalled the teenager who was shot dead on his bike just up the hill from my childhood home in suburban Minneapolis.  I saw the face of the middle school student in pristine Rochester, MN who had taken his own life with his father’s rifle.  I felt a pang go up my side like I used to get on long runs with a friend who abruptly ended his own life after returning from active duty to civilian life with his family.

Now I am convinced: there is no safe and no unsafe America.  We all breathe the common cultural air of our environment and that air is currently polluted with the toxins of violence.  On streets, in families, in schools, at our borders and across the oceans, America has come to rely on the intoxicating atmosphere of violence often as a pathway to power (individual, institutional, international, etc.) but sometimes merely senselessly.  As a result, we have lost the creativity and hope to imagine a world that doesn’t opt for violence as a first resort.

Prior to the recent shootings in Tucson, Arizona, faith leaders had been wrestling with concerns over an ever increasing tolerance for violent rhetoric, random shootings, domestic violence, and war zones as they prepared for a conference on violence in March of 2011.  The unrest and concerns of these religious leaders have been highlighted by the tragic events in Tucson and the continuing gun and community violence in Chicago and other metropolitan areas.

It is in critical times such as these that faith and community leaders from across the nation will gather at the SCUPE Congress on Urban Ministry to commit ourselves towards Peacemaking in a Culture of Violence.  The faith community is finally finding its collective voice on this issue – teachers, social workers, psychologists, and law enforcement have all weighed in – but the church has not.  Now is the time for faith institutions to join in action and in voice on actively resisting violence in our streets, in our cities, and throughout our nation.

Theologians and faith leaders like Walter Brueggemann, Shane Claiborne, Renita Weems, James Forbes and Michael Pfleger have answered our call to be prophetic voices of peace at the conference.  What is needed now are individuals committed to adding their voice to the growing call for peace by participating in the gathering.

As future and current church leaders will you join leaders from communities all across the nation in taking a stand against violence and discerning a path forward in which our churches can play a vital role in creating a more peaceful future for all people?

We hope to hear your voice at the 2011 Congress on Urban Ministry.

For more information please visit: www.congressonurbanministry.org

Peacemaking in a Culture of Violence

The World Goes Urban… Ministry?

Urbanization of the WorldSocial scientist and demographers have identified May 23, 2007 as the transition date when the world urban population finally went over the 50 percent mark.  It took a long time to happen but in reality urbanization is a rather recent and rapid phenomenon.  In the past 107 years the world’s urban population leapt from 13 percent to 50 percent.  It is projected that by 2020 we will have five hundred cities with more than a million people.  We already have at least a dozen cities with over ten million populations.

Urbanization, however, is much more than population density.  It has to do with distinct forms of human relationship, communication, interconnection, and complex patterns of cultural, economic, political, and social life that transcend the close knit patterns of smaller communities.

Church and the CityThe church, however, is frequently not well equipped to respond to the challenge of urbanization.  Models of the church and of ministry, more often than not, reflect a rural or agrarian understanding of society.  If the church lags in its awareness of and response to the challenges and opportunities of urban life, it may be because seminaries and divinity schools are delinquent in preparing pastoral leadership for urban congregations.  According to a recent study done by Robert Kemper, only one third of all accredited seminaries offer even one course related to ministry in an urban society.

This is one of the gaps we see SCUPE filling.  As you equip yourself for ministry an urban world consider how SCUPE could be a resource to you.  SCUPE offers a variety of high quality courses for graduate and undergraduate students interested in urban ministry, African-American and Latin@ theological perspectives, social justice & community development.

More importantly, SCUPE provides the opportunity for you to use the city of Chicago as a ministry learning context.  This means connecting with some of the most innovative urban ministry practitioners, getting behind-the-scenes insight into the accomplishments and struggles of their ministries, and learning to listen to the city and community through a biblical lens that is both prophetic and imaginative.

Consider becoming involved though:

– our 2011 conference: the Congress on Urban Ministry

– our academic programs: various classes open to seminary students and lay learners

– our summer or semester long urban ministry internship opportunities for seminary students.

– Carol Ann McGibbon

Speak Life Spoken Word

Another local opportunity has come to my attention for those of you in the Chicago-land area.  Speak Life will use poetry and prayer to lift up the epidemic of violence in our city.

Speak Life spoken word event