CHICAGO, IL (September 27, 2016) – Covenant churches and institutions throughout Chicago and the suburbs participated Saturday in Calls for Peace events during which people prayed and shared resources in response to the violence that is raging in parts of the city.
Some 3,100 people have been shot and more than 522 killed so far this year in Chicago. On average, 12 people are shot each day and the murder rate is at a 20-year high.
At one of the Call for Peace sites, two girls shared how the violence had impacted their lives and expressed their desire for a future in which they didn’t have to be afraid to walk to school. Participants marched for a mile and then held a “die in” at an intersection.
David Swanson, pastor of New Community Covenant Church Bronzeville and one of the main organizers, said participants knew the action would inconvenience drivers for five minutes but that the families of victims and people who live in areas plagued by violence are more than inconvenienced.
Drivers seemed to support the action, however. “You can tell angry honking from supportive honking,” Swanson said. Police knew the event would be brief and stood to the side.
Among the churches holding an event was Naperville Covenant Church, located 30 miles outside of Chicago in a city that “Money Magazine” routinely rates among the nation’s 10 most livable among those with populations between 100,000 and 300,000.
Member Helen Lee organized the Naperville group and said, “When I first checked the locations for the Chicago peace gatherings, I was surprised to see so few in the suburban areas. As a resident of the Chicago metropolitan area, I felt it was just as important for me to participate from the suburbs, and for us to communicate our care for and solidarity with the needs of the city.”
She added, “What is happening in terms of violence in Chicago is not something that suburban dwellers should distance themselves from or ignore. What is affecting one part of the body affects us all.”
The events, which were held from noon to 1 p.m., involved other Christian churches as well as Muslim, Buddhist, and Jewish faith communities. Swanson said organizers have yet to decide whether there will be similar events in the future.