Pastor on cross-country journey makes stop in Chicago

July 13, 2012 8:14:01 PM PDT
Pastor Corey Brooks was back home in Chicago Friday night, but it's just a stop on his cross-country journey.

Friday evening, his supporters greeted him at his New Beginnings Church at 79th and King Drive.

Pastor Brooks began his coast-to-coast walk in New York more than a month ago.

He is trying to raise $15 million to build a new community center at the site of a former hotel on King Drive.

It's hoped the facility will help foster peace and stop the violence in his South Side neighborhood.

The pastor of New Beginnings Church put on a new pair of shoes earlier Friday, his third since his journey began, and with the support of friends at a stop in Gary, Ind., continued on his way.

"You don't know what to expect," Brooks said. "You don't know what's coming next. So you just gotta take steps of faith. That's how life is."

The 43-year-old South Side minister began his coast-to-coast walk in New York more than a month ago.

Despite a sore knee, he says he's been averaging about eight hours of walking a day.

"We've walked through heat, we've walked through rain, we've walked through rejection," he said. "We've walked through food poisoning."

"It really inspires me because I know he's working in insurmountable odds, and even with the heat being the way it is, he's continuing to walk," said Gary resident Janet Ward.

Last winter, Brooks spent more than three months on the roof of the hotel building which had become a magnet for crime. And his efforts raised enough money to buy the hotel and tear it down.

Since June 5, he's been bringing his anti-violence message to communities large and small.

"It's just not a Chicago problem," Brooks said. "It's just not a Gary problem. But it's a Harlem problem. It's a Newark, New Jersey problem. It's a Philadelphia, Pennsylvania problem."

"Not just when it's time to march we come together," added Gary Housing Authority's Billy Ellis. "We need to be involved in our communities actively with programs and things for our children."

So far, Brooks has only raised about $50,000, but he hopes to get a boost from his weekend stop in Chicago.

Though he's been away Brooks has been keeping tabs on the recent rash of shootings in his home city.

"I love Chicago," Brooks said. "I love Woodlawn and Englewood. And whenever kids get shot and killed, it's always something that stays on my mind."


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