Pastor kicks off summer with parade that prays for nonviolent summer

As the last days of school approach and summer gets under way in the city, minds and hearts turn toward making sure that the warmer months are filled with nonviolence.

Pastor John Hannah of New Life Covenant Southeast Church mobilized thousands to come out Saturday for the annual “Prayer on the 9” peace march in Chatham. The event drew attendees to stand up against violence, raise awareness and foster unity by way of a 2-mile walk along 79th Street, from Greenwood Avenue to the Dan Ryan Expressway. In years past, people donned red clothing to pray along the South Side thoroughfare for an end to the violence. This year’s theme was “Praying for our City.”

Hannah said that since the event has been taking place for the last decade, he’s seen the crime rate decrease on 79th Street and in the Grand Crossing community, something he is excited about.

“The church that we own on 76th Street and Greenwood Avenue, there used to be a time that you couldn’t drive down this street due to the drug use and the drug sales, but we ended up purchasing every drug house on that street, so now you see no drug activities on that street,” Hannah said.

Hannah, a former juvenile probation officer who served the Englewood community, said his church partners with other churches in the community to march with his 20,000 member congregation, including individuals and relatives of those who have had to suffer the effects of gun violence. Hannah mentioned a recent shooting at 79th Street and Cottage Grove in front of Happy Liquor-Food, a space that the City of Chicago had decided to shut due to the amount of violence that took place in front of it. Hannah said the parents of a recent victim marched with the group.

“The national news makes it appear as if Chicago is such a violent city and we will acknowledge we do have our share of violence, but America has a gun issue,” Hannah said. “Every city is dealing with gun violence and, until we deal with the gun violence on a national level, we’re all affected.”

To help with that, Hannah made sure to have counselors offering mental health services and lawyers from legal clinics on site at the rally to get people the help that they need. The church has helped in numerous ways throughout the year, from community festivals to bus tours of historically Black colleges and universities for local youth. He said youth “deserve to live without fear, surrounded by community support and opportunities for a brighter future.”

“Our goal is to show various pieces of the puzzle coming together to address one issue,” Hannah said. “The Grand Crossing community used to be known as a dead zone, which means that very few businesses or anything was coming into that community. We don’t want to call it a dead zone. My goal is to bring businesses and restaurants. … I want to feel like I live on the North Side, to be able to sit outside and eat food.”

Englewood will host its own such event on Saturday, honoring gun violence victims and survivors’ families during their third annual “Peace Fest: Black-On-Black Love Edition.” The event will commemorate “Wear Orange Weekend,” a national initiative to end gun violence and honor communities shattered by it.

Organized by Imagine Englewood if and the We Grow Chicago Community-based Coalition, including Think Outside Da Block, Healthy Hood, Chicago Survivors and Moms Demand Action, the fest will have food, music, a resource fair and clothing and shoes giveaways.

Register to attend the free gathering, slated for 2 p.m. to 7 p.m. at Peace Campus – Imagination House, 6407 S. Honore St., Chicago.

Source link

Leave a Comment