Friday, November 02, 2007

The Mayor Brought Us Together...

O Lord, our creator, by your holy prophet you taught your ancient people to seek the welfare of the cities in which they lived. We commend our neighborhood to your care, that it might be kept free from social strife and decay. Give us strength of purpose and concern for others, that we may create here a community of justice and peace where your will may be done; through your Son, Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

The above collect (found in the Lutheran Book of Worship) is one we've prayed many times over the years at Zion, beginning with a series of prayer vigils we held for the neighborhood during our centennial year. (You're looking at a flier we made for one of them.) It's one I've prayed during community prayer gatherings this last year in response to an epidemic of shootings here in Peoria.

Last week I received a letter from Peoria Mayor James Ardis inviting area pastors to engage in a concerted prayer venture on behalf of our community. Michael Miller of the Journal Star reported it like this in Thursday's paper:
Jim Ardis wants to drive the city to its knees.

The mayor of Peoria has invited religious leaders to meet with him at 2:30 p.m. Friday at Riverside Community Church, 207 NE Monroe St., to discuss a citywide prayer effort he's calling "Ready Set Pray" as part of the fight against crime.

"I think it's going to energize the faith-based community more," Ardis said Wednesday.

Prayer gatherings were the norm during a spate of slayings in Peoria earlier this year. Churches also have been involved in a recent gun buyback program.

Ardis said he was inspired by an effort started earlier this month in Orlando, Fla., called Operation Armor All. That 40-day program was initiated by police department chaplains in response to an increase in violent crime.

The Peoria mayor said he will ask the faith leaders to create a 40-day calendar and try to get different groups to commit to prayer on each of the 40 days.
Read it all here.

For some reason a clergy association for all Peoria clergy has never caught on. I'm not sure how conscious it is, but the associations that have existed in my 15 years here have not been able to attract across too broad a theological / political / racial spectrum -- even for the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity celebrations that happened for about a decade. Black-white; evangelical/pentecostal-mainline; inner city-suburban -- individuals cross those barriers for a while, then lose steam or other priorities take over. I'm one of those. I say this with some pride, for I have participated in and been among the leaders of some of these efforts. And I say this with some (okay, more) shame -- for I have not persevered.

But I've not given up. And earlier this afternoon the Mayor greeted some 60-70 clergy and other leaders of Christian groups -- perhaps the broadest spectrum of Christians I've seen at one time in my 15 years here -- told us what he hoped we could do, then got out of our way. Zion will take part in the effort, whatever comes out of the steering committee that organized.

Thanks, Mr. Mayor, for bringing us together.


Pastor Zip said...

For the Journal Star's report on the gathering of Peoria area church leaders, click here.

Anonymous said...

I have had 3 guns stolen from me I hope this Gun Buy Back includes returning stolen guns to there rightful owners? Biggmann382

Pastor Zip said...

As I understand it, Biggman, the guns are turned over to the State Police, who check to see whether or not a gun has been used in a crime. If not, the Police melt it. I do not know if a gun reported stolen is handled any differently. spt+