“Seek the peace and prosperity of the city to which I have carried you in exile. Pray to the Lord for it, because if it prospers, you too will prosper.” Jeremiah 29:7
The Cook County board president has officially declared gun violence a “Public Health Crisis,” civil unrest from excessive use of force by some members of law enforcement permeates our city and public policies fall short of addressing the concerns of the “least of these.” The mantras in the wake of these traumas are familiar; “We’re at a crisis,” “Something must be done,” “We have to stop this madness.”
For many of us, these phrases have become our desperate way to respond, posted to Facebook statuses and in the comment section of local news stories. How can we keep our young people safe and healthy? How can we heal our city? Something must be done, but what?
What does the Lord require of us?
These are the questions that the Urban Network of the Northern Illinois Conference is seeking to address in our upcoming ecumenical Urban Summit on September 23 and 24 aptly titled, “Faith in the Public Square: Becoming the Prophetic, Pastoral and Political church.” How can we, as the church, live our faith publicly in our beloved city?
The summit begins on Friday, September 23 with a youth and young-adult led worship service covering our city in prayer. We will come together to sing, pray, give thanks for our city and hear a word from Jené A. Colvin, who joins us from Trinity United Church of Christ.
On Saturday from 8:30am to 4:00pm at Morgan Park UMC we will come together in a time of learning and equipping. We are pleased to be joined by our plenary speaker, Dr. Obery Hendricks, Professor of Biblical Interpretation at New York Theological Seminary and author of The Politics of Jesus: Rediscovering the True Revolutionary Nature of Jesus’ Teachings and How They Have Been Corrupted. He will be discussing the intersection of religion, politics and social policy in America.
The hope is for that this is a place of learning, but also a place to equip church leaders and make commitments together toward action in our communities. The goal is four-fold: inform participants on ways the Bible speaks to our current crises facing our cities; empower people to organize and advocate for change; equip pastors and church leaders with tools to preach and teach the Bible contextually; and encourage our churches to provide care that addresses trauma in our communities. Each of our workshops focuses on equipping and training participants not just to discuss but to respond to the issues so deeply affecting our communities.
Something must be done. Let’s commit to doing it together.