'Trauma is real': Local faith leaders reflect on deadly Highland Park parade shooting 1 year later

Leah Hope Image
Friday, June 30, 2023
Faith leaders reflect on deadly Highland Park shooting 1 year later
Local faith leaders reflected on the deadly Highland Park shooting and other gun violence one year after the parade tragedy.

CHICAGO (WLS) -- Last year, ABC7 sat down with three faith leaders in the Chicago area to reflect on the gun violence in Highland Park and elsewhere.

Reverend Quincy Worthington of Highland Park Presbyterian Church, Reverend Ira Acree of Greater St. John Bible Church in Chicago's Austin neighborhood and Rabbi Isaac Serrota of Makom Solel Lakeside of Highland Park joined in on the conversation.

SEE ALSO | Highland Park mass shooting sent Community Emergency Response Team running toward danger

"We've heard of so many mass shootings just in this past year," Worthington said.

"In the last five months, I've had three members get gunned down," said Acree.

"I have the experience often of the last year being out in the public, and it's a very uncomfortable feeling," Serrota said.

ABC7 spoke with Rabbi Serrota virtually about what he feels has or has not changed regarding gun violence.

"I think it has galvanized the community to take action to move forward, but healing may be too much to ask," Serrota said.

READ MORE | 'Ripped away': Man describes day 88-year-old father gunned down in Highland Park parade shooting

The Fourth of July shooting was and still is traumatic.

Worthington said his ministry has purposefully expanded far beyond church walls.

"A lot of times, we look at huge problems like gun violence and shootings, and look for hugs, solutions and overlook the small day-to-day things we can do," Worthington said. "You find a kid who needs a mentor, who needs to be loved unconditionally, who needs to be shown they too are a precious child of God."

Acree is supporting efforts to ban assault weapons and creating mental health ministries with other Chicago ministers.

SEE ALSO | Should Illinois red flag laws have prevented the Highland Park parade shooting?

"We've got to realize that trauma is real, and when he throws himself on the alter and says, starting with me, that one of the things I did, I said, 'I'm going to get counseling, because I've been through a whole lot,'" Acree said.

These three understand there is no quick fix. For now, they lean into their faiths and their communities to help themselves and others with the hope of a more peaceful society for us all.