Local clergy take large role in healing as gun violence increases across Chicago

Leah Hope Image
Friday, August 5, 2022
Local faith leaders working to navigate counseling due to gun violence
Local clergy members are taking action to help their congregations heal, but, they're stretched thin. From listening and preaching to coming from behind the pulpit to work on legis

HIGHLAND PARK, Ill (WLS) -- Local clergy members are taking action to help their congregations heal but, they're stretched thin. From listening and preaching, to coming from behind the pulpit to work on legislation and policy.

Local clergy sat down with ABC7 to discuss what conversations they're having with members and how they try to help people deal with the pain associated with gun violence.

"Conversations I don't know that I've ever had to have before," Rabbi Isaac Serotta said.

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Religious leaders understood they would be called upon to support the grieving, but increasingly they have been called upon to support those dealing with trauma from gun violence.

"People are afraid. People are traumatized," Rev. Ira Acree said.

Rabbi Isaac Serotta recently hosted a discussion with ABC7 at Makom Solel Lakeside synagogue in Highland Park with Pastor Ira Acree and Pastor Quincy Worthington.

Acree, who's based out of the Austin neighborhood in Chicago, is part of the Leaders Network which held a vigil after the fourth of July massacre in Highland Park.

"When I saw that report on the Fourth of July, it was so horrific," Acree said.

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Rev. Worthington is the new pastor of Highland Park Presbyterian Church, who has been part of memorials and vigils after the mass shooting.

"This gun violence will not just keep happening in Austin and in Lawndale and Englewood," Acree said. "It's going to spread like a virus, so it's vitally important that we seize this moment and do something."

The Highland Park shooting left seven dead and dozens injured. That same weekend in Chicago, police say 48 people were shot and five killed.

In one shooting alone, five people, including a teen, were wounded in Parkway Gardens.

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The leaders all acknowledge a disparity in attention and resources for survivors between Highland Park and so many violent incidents in Chicago. Their discussion about solutions includes difficult subjects for some.

"White privilege is real," Worthington said. "I can use my privilege, in a way, to give voice to people who aren't necessarily given the voice and the communities that are under served right and to help people start seeing the discrepancy that going."

The leader's work is ongoing to help their communities heal and projects to reduce assault weapons access as well as foster environments where people feel safe and supported. All this on behalf of their congregants and all Chicagoans.