Chicago Metropolitan Association of Chicago of the United Church of Christ
Off the Pews into the Streets:
A Faith-Based Community’s Response to Youth Violence
Help support the development and sustainability of a new public ministry of the Chicago Metropolitan Association of Chicago of the Illinois Conference of the United Church of Christ. An urban public pilot ministry, entitled: Off the Pews into the Streets: A Faith-Based Community’s Response to Youth Violence (OTP) was created to serve as a call to churches in Cluster 6 (twelve churches on the South Side of Chicago), to engage in action with a focus on reducing violence. The goal is implementing and evaluating strategies that include intergenerational, interdenominational, and intercultural aspects of the community. Central to the success of this work is acknowledging that God’s people are all in this together. Consequently, lasting transformation requires reducing shame and blame. Thus, we are called to be intentionally inclusive. Even in the faith community, there is a great deal of resistance to assessing what is available and sharing the resources necessary to achieve the greater good. The low hanging fruit of this initiative indicates that issues such as the relationship of violence as an outcome of a community’s youth living in poverty with underlying under assessed mental health issued add to the persistence of violence.
Funding A Call to Public Ministry
While the ministry was started as a youth initiative, the early stage exchanges between seniors and youth demonstrated the wisdom inherent in a shared strategy. Thus CMA is moving towards a platform that incorporates this process. The genesis of the ministry is reducing youth violence not by talking, but by the action of mentoring and modeling desired behaviors. The method is embedded in co-designed programming that lends itself to seamless leadership development through pairing youth with adults in team teaching opportunities. They are taught life skills and teach technology skills. Money management (earning, saving, and tithing are incorporated into the fabric of the shared classroom, field trips that illustrate lessons relative to environmental sustainability are among other life skills integrated into the curriculum. Problem solving and critical thinking are also demonstrated.