CHICAGO, Ill. (Mennonite Mission Network)-- I wish I could say that violence has departed from the corner of Pratt Boulevard and Ashland Avenue since Living Water Community Church renovated and took occupany of our new meetinghouse at this location on Christmas Eve 2005.
God first focused our attention on this spot when a drive-by shooting occurred here in October 2001. (See: "Called to the corner" for background.) Our congregation began a weekly Sunday night prayer vigil on this corner which continues even now.
Reality is that we are located in a volatile space one block from the local public elementary school and two blocks from the local public high school where fighting often breaks out between students. Rival gangs conduct turf warfare back and forth in this space as well. Police cars are a common sight around this intersection many days after school. Just last week we heard gunshots as the elementary kids were coming out of school.
These events convince us more than ever that our prayers and peace witness are needed here. When school was starting up last fall, we set up our free lemonade stand on the corner to offer ourselves as a peace-making presence on the street. We anticipate doing this again as school winds down so we can publicize our four-week Vacation Bible School program being offered this summer.
On Easter Sunday, we poured out of the meetinghouse to sing our praises to God (with "old 606" and other selections) for the resurrection of Jesus at this intersection.
We find more of our neighbors dropping in for Sunday worship now that we are in a more visible location.
A loan from Reba Place Fellowship and MMA made it possible for our 10-year-old church plant to purchase the property. A capital campaign committee led by Patty Peebles raised funds needed for a down payment, renovation and ongoing maintenance costs. More than $500,000 has been raised in gifts and pledges, with more than half coming from the 80-member congregation.
Please continue to pray that our presence brings Christ's peace to this conflictual area in a tangible and visible way.