Rooftop pastor returns to church

February 26, 2012 9:02:55 PM PST
Pastor Corey Brooks returned to his pulpit Sunday after ending his three-month rooftop vigil.

"Do you all mind helping a little South Side church?" Brooks said to his congregation.

Brooks, pastor of New Beginnings Church, was camping atop an abandoned motel on King Drive in hopes of raising the money needed to demolish the motel and build a community center, part of a crusade against gun violence.

Movie star and producer Tyler Perry last week donated $100,000 to the pastor's cause, allowing Brooks to end his time on the roof after 94 days. The money from Perry helped him meet a goal of $450,000.

"For Tyler Perry to come in at the last minute and bless the ministry like that, it's awesome," said church member Christopher Hall.

There were others who pledged. Another $85,000 came from a Chicago businessman toward a second phase of fundraising for $15 million to build a community center for a project, Helping Others Obtain Destiny.

"We're going to attack it like an elephant, one small bite at a time," said Danielle Willis of Project HOOD.

Brooks began his campaign in November after a neighborhood teen, Carlton King Archer, was killed in a gang-related shooting.

His vigil not only drew a national spotlight, but also the attention of Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel, who gave support to the 43-year-old pastor by phone while he was on the roof. Emanuel attended Sunday's service.

"There's a new beginning across the street," Emanuel said to applause. "And it's not just a new beginning for a building."

Sunday, Brooks spoke not of his victory, but of the highs and lows by sharing a journal entry he made on day 92.

"Lord, it's early," he said. "Couldn't sleep. I don't know why, but I have a sense of expectation."