Parishioners come together to help end racism

CHICAGO (WLS) -- For many, racism is an uncomfortable topic, but some people have forged unlikely partnerships in an effort to improve race relations.

There was a good crowd for breakfast at Marvin's on the West Side. There were some diners from Darian, Elmhurst, Tinley Park, but soul food wasn't the draw.

Before sunrise worshippers from the Austin Corinthian Baptist Church and Suburban Life Church joined in faith and purpose. The two fellowships united 20 years ago to focus on racial reconciliation. And in the last year, their work has proved more critical.

"When you're together and you're face-to-face and you say we're human beings together, it changes everything," Pastor Tim Hoekstra, Suburban Life Church, said.

Members of the two congregations find commonality through their Bible study, services and social events. By getting to know each other and understanding each other's experiences, they said there is some healing from the effects of racism.

"It gives me hope, that everything that we're going through in the nation and throughout the world, that people of all likes and races and ethnicities can come together," Andrew Martin, Austin Corinthian Baptist Church, said.

"I thought a lot of prejudice had gone, had healed, but it wasn't. We heard life experiences of a lot of these black people and what they were dealing with, and I had no idea," Grace Brouwer, Suburban Life, said.

Some suburban members joined specifically to be part of the solution.

"It feels natural, it's not like I'm coming here once a month and feeling out of place, it comes pretty naturally," Ryan Zantingh, Suburban Life, said.

"I believe we're on the right track and I believe Jesus is pleased by the direction. I don't want to get too comfortable because there's still more work to do," Pastor Phillip Hilliard, Austin Corinthian Baptist Church, said.

As division exists so does progress. And some individuals are committed to being instruments of peace.
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