Pastors: Safe haven clearinghouse in works

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    So many programs are available within the walls of various churches in the Chicagoland area, yet, many aren’t aware they exist, said a West Side pastor who has been in the forefront of stopping the escalating violence crippling the city.

    The Rev. Ira Acree –– senior pastor of Greater St. John Bible Church, 1256 N. Waller, and also a key player of The Leaders Network, a clergy-based disaster relief and social justice advocacy organization –– said the time has never been more relevant than now for pastors to unite and make sure the public knows the programs their respective churches offer.

    “You never know how many lives could be saved if our children and their parents knew where they could go to engage in positive activities,” Acree told the Defender after the Network held an emergency coalition meeting July 10 at his church.

    Acree said the 60 ministers in attendance discussed the need for a Faith Community Clearinghouse highlighting the various programs facilitated by churches and other faith-based organizations.

    “As I listened to the pastors talk about the number of youth and children activities that their churches currently host, I was pleasantly surprised. Many safe havens already exist but are underutilized due to limited marketing,” he said.

    A website is in development to house the database.

    The Rev. Marshall Hatch of New Mount Pilgrim M.B. Church announced plans for a citywide multi-racial ecumenical “Peace Weekend.”

    The weekend will urge Chicagoans to attend mosques, synagogues, and churches to promote the respect for human life, moral regard, and community mobilization to stop violence. The clergy coalition will also become a vehicle to inform the general public about what community-based organizations are doing to make Chicago a safer place.

    Acree urged other pastors to join them in sharing their programs to help cease the violence.

    Those in attendance include:
    Pastor Jacques A. Conway Neighborhood United Methodist Church
    Bishop James Springfield Greater Hope Baptist Ministries
    Pastor Martin Studemire Powerhouse Ministries
    Pastor Lajuan Whitfield New Life Holiness
    Rev. Donald Smith First Baptist Congregational Church
    Pastor James Hicks Original Greater Garfield
    Elder Murray J. Mills Life Center Ministries
    Evangelist Tasha Shields New Hope Baptist Church
    Larry Greenfield American Baptist Churches of Metro Chicago
    Father Michael Pfleger St. Sabina Catholic Church
    Pastor James Hicks Original Greater Garfield
    Pastor Walter L. “Slim” Coleman Lincoln United Methodist Church
    Pastor Marshall Hatch New Mt. Pilgrim Missionary Baptist Church
    Pastor Ira Acree Greater St. John Bible Church
    Pastor Cy Fields New Landmark MB Church
    Pastor Leslie Sanders Hope Presbyterian Church
    Pastor Walter Turner New Spiritual Light MB Church
    Pastor John Collins Great True Vine MB Church
    Pastor David Pope Brotherly Love Baptist Church
    Apostle Robbie Wilkerson New Birth Christian Center
    Pastor Matthew Miller Rising Sun MB Church
    Pastor Woodard Williams #2 New Mt. Sinai
    Pastor Billy Geanes Renewance Baptist Church
    Pastor Cleophus Lee Original Providence Baptist Church
    Pastor Roosevelt Watkins Bethlehem Star MB Church
    Pastor R.M. Lara Judson Baptist Church
    Rev. Kenny Baker Judson Baptist Church
    Rev. Harry Roundtree Judson Baptist Church
    Pastor Steve Epting Hope Community Church
    Pastor Darian Williams Renewed Hope Church
    Minister Freddie Savage Sweet Holy Spirit Full Gospel Church
    Pastor Ivan Phillips Hopewell MB Church
    Pastor Andre Smith 1st Bethel MB Church
    Rev. Danny James First Baptist Congregational Church
    Rev. Chris Griffin First Baptist Congregational Church
    Rev. George Wilson Circle Urban Ministries
    Rev. Andre Hinton Circle Urban Ministries
    Pastor John White Leap of Faith
    Pastor Leroy Elliot New Greater St. John MB Church
    Pastor Leon Miller Mt. Ebenezer Baptist Church
    Rev. Vincent Hardman Freedom Baptist Church
    Rev. Robert Housley SAFER Foundation
    Pastor Tommie Woolridge Helping Hand MB Church
    Pastor Gerald Lamar Wilson Greater St. John Bible Church
    Pastor Ronald Wilks Soul Saving MB Church
    Pastor Cornelius Parks Harvest Worship Center
    Pastor L. Benard Jakes West Point Baptist Church
    Pastor Randall Harris Faith Community Church
    Pastor Reginald Bachus Friendship Baptist Church
    Pastor Willie Southworth True Story MB Church
    Pastor James Brown New Freedom Christian Center
    Pastor Dwayne Grant New Faith Community United Methodist Church
    Pastor Jonathan Rodgers New Jehovah MB Church
    Rev. Phil Ramey Greater St. John Bible Church
    CW Washington

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