Faith-based groups are reportedly holding prayer rallies every two weeks in the hope that violence-stricken Chicago will find healing and peace.
Christ's Oasis Ministries Pastor Isaac Paintsil, in an interview with The Christian Post, said faith-based groups have come up with the "Chicago Pastors Rally," which holds a "unity torch" with local officials and different clergy from across the city to hold breakfasts and prayer rallies every two weeks.
"We have what we call the unity torch. It just passes from one church to another. Wherever the torch is located, they spend a certain amount of time in prayer, praying for peace and harmony among our communities and churches," Paintsil said.
The pastor pointed out that such an initiative was necessary now that Chicago's violence has become "horrendous" and "heartbreaking."
"At a certain point, how can mothers be grieving and families be grieving, fathers be grieving week after week after week after week? This is the real challenge that we are having, and the emotional toll on us is just unbelievable," Paintsil shared.
Sun-Times Media Wire reported that Chicago had 820 homicides in 2021, which is regarded as the highest record since 1995 which had a record 828 murders. The data is based on the Cook County Medical Examiner's Office report that said Chicago experienced the most violent year in 2021 and called it the "deadliest year in more than a quarter century."
The Cook County Medical Examiner's Office announced in November that they have already recorded over 1,000 homicides in 2021, totaling 1,009 as of that time. The Office pointed out that this was lower than 1994 records of 1,141 and even lower than that of 1991's 1,229 homicides.
Chicago Police Superintendent David Brown said last Thursday, December 30, during a press conference on their department's annual plan that they will be deploying more officers in the street to ensure "positive interactions" in neighborhoods while adding on detectives to work on solving reported murders.
"We all know this has been a challenging year here in the city of . Too many families are reeling from the loss of loved ones due to senseless gun violence," Brown said.
Faith-based organizations are said to be in need of "stronger relationships" and "finances" to achieve their goal of promulgating peace in the city, Paintsil said.
"(There needs to be) stronger relationships with the faith-based communities...we are not able to carry out the work at the degree that we would like to, definitely is finances. I know that quite a lot of support comes in for different things, but I always call the Church the spiritual levy. Because when the levy is breached, everything breaks down," Paintsil revealed.
This matter was similarly pointed out by Greater St. John Bible Church of Chicago Pastor Ira Acree who disclosed that local officials look to faith-based organizations to take the lead being in the forefront. Acree said officials "fund the outside organizations who come in as the savior."
"They give them tons of money, but I think...they should make a concerted effort to build up the people who are there on the frontlines. Some of these churches have feeding programs, some have afterschool programs, some have mentoring programs. These [are] people that live here, that work here and they are going to be here, for the most part," Acree said.
"They need to learn how to see the importance of building up these home-grown institutions who are going to be here, come what may," he added.
Last month, Christianity Daily reported that New Beginnings Church Senior Pastor Corey Brooks has been camping out in cold weather to raise awareness and to incite prayers to end the gun violence in Chicago. Brooks' camp out, which ends on February 28, has been launched through his Project Hood Communities Development Corporation that intends to construct an 85,000-square-foot building, "Leadership and Economic Opportunity Center," to safely provide children shelter, trauma services, teen programming, and sports facilities to the city.
First Progressive Church Pastor Joseph Rhoiney, also a member of the Chicago Pastors Rally, raised that each church are making efforts "in their individual locations that they feel are working."
"The idea is that there is a branch that guides to the root, and the root is faith, hope, and love and peace. And we continue to multiply and magnify that as manifested in different areas," Rhoiney said.
But he pointed out that all these initiatives must be accompanied, most importantly, by the spiritual development of those in the communities being served just like what the prophets did in the Bible when Israel was in turmoil.
"I think we all need to stand up and say that's what we are, and respond in such a way that affects peace and harmony and goodwill for all men," said Rhoiney.
"We all carry multiple titles, whether we are editors, writers, reporters, pastors, doctors, engineers, accountants, global communicators, broadcasters, it makes no difference. You are Christians. Your witness should rise inside your office to affect the change for the greater good and the greater community," he stressed.