Dear Church Family and Friends,
June 18th marks the first day of summer. I’m sure that many of us long for the nice weather. The chance to leave the house and enjoy the outdoors will be a welcomed relief. However, as is often the case, summer comes with a price. In communities of color and the “Black Community” in particular, that price has been increased violence, and senseless killing. This is a condition that has sadly persisted for far too long.
According to the FBI’s Uniform Crime Report, Chicago ranked highest of the three biggest cities with 884.26 violent crimes per capita. In comparison, New York had 596.7, and Los Angles 496.71.
( http://chicago.cbslocal.com/2015/10/22/violent-crime-statistics-for-every-city-in-america/ )
In recent times our neighborhoods and communities have been the focus of a lot of attention. Most, if not all of that attention has not been good. From the North Side to the South Side, the reports of crime and violence in the “Black Community” seem to be the only news that’s gaining a voice. This has brought about negative scrutiny from city planners, political leaders, and law enforcement agencies. We have more prisons, more laws, and more incidents of our people having their lives taken with offerings of justification. The negative viewpoint is not limited to persons in the city alone. Others around the country are watching as well. We’re all familiar with the term “Chi-Raq” and the recent movie of the same name.
Historically, our people have faced many challenges and overcome great obstacles. All of this, at least in this country, has been done while living among a peer group teeming with disdain and hatred. The common factor that allowed this to be the case is HOPE. Somehow, as a people, we’ve become lost… we are loosing hope. According to Shane J. Lopez, PH.D, “We can’t live without hope.” (Making Hope Happen: Create the Future You Want for Yourself and Others)
As the “Body of Christ” we are charged with seeking the lost and delivering a message of hope. Christ in us, our hope of glory. I believe that that message is much more urgent and in need today than ever before. As we all know, the majority of the ills that occur in our communities are being carried out by our own people on each other.
We are the people that populate the gangs.
We are the merchants selling the drugs.
We fire the guns that kill more innocent lives
than any of the police or other outsiders.
Somehow a better effort has to be made to encourage our sons and daughters that this behavior is not how we should act. The love of God is the same love in which Jesus loved us. It is the love we are instructed to use as we love one another. It is also the mark by which the world will know that we are “His Disciples.”
On May 21, 2016 we plan to address this trend of violence. With your help we can present a “Unified Faith Community.” I’m asking for support from my brothers and sisters among the faithful few. Our rally will be held in Chicago’s, Woodlawn Community, but all of the cities concerned people are welcome.
“We Walk By Faith”
We’re organizing a rally to send a clear message to the people of our communities. The message that violence against ourselves is not the answer and we must find another focus. Since Chicago is being watched, let’s give them something positive to see. I purpose we hit the ground running, getting out in front of the summer before it starts.
It will be a day of safe, fun activities for the kids. A hub of resource information for the families, and an offering of positive encouraging messages, delivered by speakers passionately concerned about the future of our community. I believe that there are many who feel as I do. We can walk together in faith and in reality, if we touch and agree. I’m asking that those of the faith community make an effort to stand together. We can restore a sense of much needed hope by putting the compassion and love of Christ on display. I have some commitments but more are needed. It would be a shame if the majority of interest in our town, is by those from out of town looking in. It’s our home town, and I need more local support.
We need speakers, games for the kids, entertainment, and food… but mostly we need a presence from the “Christian Community.” We can’t have an expectation for our people to develop “FAITH” if the people of faith can’t make a public showing of it. We must be doers of the “WORD”, and not just hearers only. Let’s all stand together in “FAITH”, sowing seeds of hope and encouragement that will reap a harvest of life.
If you feel as I do about violence in our communities and want further information, or would like to join this cause, please contact me at this email address: firstname.lastname@example.org
Bro. Matthew Milam II,
Deacon Board Chairman,
South Side Gospel Church