Talking about religion or more specifically a church is consider taboo but in this case it's necessary. This past Monday evening I attended the Park Manor Neighbors Community Council (PMNCC) monthly meeting. There was a full agenda, but most of the 100+ attendees came out for one issue. Only through communication through PMNCC were they notified that an organization Unity Parenting and Counseling had approach the Alderman about signing off on a special use permit. The need for the permit was to establish a shelter for homeless teens. In most cases the PMNCC meeting attendees are even tempered but this subject angered the attendees. The shelter wanted to open inside what was once a small elementary school operated by St. Peter Lutheran Church. The building is being leased by a Liberation Christian Center. The church is new to the community and little was known or communicated about the church to the community. As the representatives of Unity attempted to make their case, the temperature in the room was going to start to boil over and both representatives from Unity and attendees became upset. No answer that Unity gave was or would have persuaded the members of the 74th,73rd Wabash and Michigan block club members who were in attendance. The bottom line was and is that 7400 S Michigan is the wrong location and YES, this is definitely the wrong time. On May 19th, the Red Line train line will shut down for 6-9 months and limit transportation options including several bus lines to the community and require possible walking through the community to get to alternative routes. So to state that the shelter would have no impact on the community is a very shortsighted and somewhat delusional. Per Unity, if someone is expelled for not following the rules they are not allowed to loiter around the building . This would lead the individuals to walk up to 75th street where there are stores and several nightclubs. 75th Street is the dividing line for the Chicago Police Department 3rd and 6th districts. Both districts already have their hands full and having homeless teens loitering is just a problem the y do not need.
While it became very apparent that the community was not going to support the special use permit, what did become apparent the church and pastor attempted to pimp both groups. During the presentation, Unity stated the pastor Bishop James E. Dukes offered the space to them, and never mentioned he had any conversations with the community. The church and pastor certainly didn't make any friends by blowing off this meeting or ever coming out to introduce themselves to the community. Sources characterize the pastor as "Shady". Per Unity representatives, the pastor was out of town.
I and many others question the timing of this proposal. In a time when our city and state government are suppose to be broke, where is the money coming from to pay for this shelter? In a time when city services such as Mental health facilities that serve this community are being eliminated or consolidated to other areas why is there such an urgency to open this facility? Lastly, why did this group not notify any of the other social service agencies that service the community of their intentions to open this facility?
So the bottom line is the Liberation Church feels that they can do what they want and not answer to anyone, such as engage in construction work without obtaining permits. So is this what churches are suppose to do? Is this what men of god suppose to do? So it will be interesting to see if the pastor steps up and apologizes to the community and work with community.
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Tags: 6th district, 6th ward, alderman, chatham, chicago transportation, city of chicago, community, homeless, james dukes, liberation christian center, park manor, park manor neighbors, red line, roderick sawyer, shelter, southside, state of Illinois, teens, transitional housing, unity parenting and counseling