Pastor combats violence

Lisa Misner Sergent —  March 24, 2016

Takes to airwaves to save kids and streets

An IBSA pastor appeared on the “Steve Harvey Show” last month to bring attention to rampant gun violence in his city. Corey Brooks, who pastors New Beginnings Church on Chicago’s South Side, was part of a four-person panel on Harvey’s Feb. 15 episode, the whole of which was dedicated to violence in Chicago.

Chicago pastor Corey Brooks (right)

Chicago pastor Corey Brooks (far right), “The thing that will change and solve the problem of violence is the gospel.”

It’s a problem Brooks has been fighting for years, most notably during his 2011 campaign on the roof of a motel across the street from his church. “I was just tired of it,” Brooks said of the crime that riddled the motel. With only a tent to protect him from the Chicago winter, Brooks spent 94 days on the roof, until he had raised $555,000—enough money to buy the hotel and tear it down. His church is now raising money to build a community center in its place.

In 2015, Chicago had 468 homicides, the Chicago Tribune reported, the most of any U.S. city. More than 2,900 people were shot. Already in 2016, there have been 467 shooting victims in Chicago.

Brooks’s church sits in a neighborhood that one newspaper labeled in 2014 the city’s most dangerous. But when New Beginnings moved in to the location, they were looking for a place they could make a difference.

“We wanted an area that really needed the gospel, an area that really needed a lot of help,” Brooks told the Illinois Baptist. “God has really been good to us, and we’re doing the best we can do in that area. It’s difficult, but we’re working really hard.”

The church started a non-profit called “Project HOOD” that focuses on mentoring initiatives. It was Brooks’s time on the motel roof that first introduced him to talk show host Steve Harvey, who gave the pastor his Best Community Leader Award in 2012. Harvey’s foundation has since partnered with Project HOOD.

On the Feb. 15 episode of Harvey’s show, which tapes in Chicago, Brooks’s fellow panelists—a former school principal, a journalist, and a Catholic priest—came from very different walks of life than his own. But to solve the problem of gun violence, Brooks said, people are going to have to work together.

In fact, that’s why his church affiliated with the Illinois Baptist State Association in 2015. “I realized that this issue is a lot bigger than what an independent church can handle,” Brooks said. “You need to be aligned and partnering and collaborating with other groups that believe what you believe” so that you can bring needed resources into communities, he said.

“The thing that will change and solve the problem of violence is the gospel.”

Meredith Flynn is an editorial contributor to the Illinois Baptist.

Lisa Misner Sergent

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Lisa is IBSA Director of Communications. A Missouri native, she moved to Illinois 22 years ago and arrived at IBSA a few years later.