Dear Father Pfleger,

I hope my letter finds you well and ever committed to “stay on the wall,” in His service. Chicago needs you now more than ever.

The tally of shootings and homicides this summer fails to convey the human loss and incalculable harm to the psyche and soul of a people who daily walk through the valley of the shadow of death.

Our people perish. And yet, there is hope.

OPINION

That unquenchable eternal hope is rooted in faith in the omnipotent, sovereign God above. It is stirred by the fierce passion you have shown as pastoral leader of the Faith Community of Saint Sabina.

I have watched you, for years now, unflinchingly speak truth to power and declare righteousness in the face of pure unadulterated evil. Through you I have indeed witnessed the steady heart and hand of Christ.

Quite frankly, given my experiences with the institutional church in this dispensation of “churchianity” and prosperity preachers, your commitment alone — to uplift the downtrodden, to be a voice for the voiceless, despite evil spreading itself like a green bay tree — has been, for me, a spiritual lighthouse.

I am writing to you regarding my most recent column in which I mention you. I understand that some apparently misinterpreted my words as disparaging — or as a diss. Nothing could be further from the truth.

As we have already spoken by phone, I know that we are clear. I write this letter, however, as a public clarification for any who contacted you to express concern over my so-called attack on you. Wow. Still shaking my head ….

Last week’s column was a song, a poem. “Stanza 2” is addressed to “Preacher Man” — a metaphor for preachers ad nauseam (and anonymous) who have abdicated their place as shepherds.

Preachers who feast on the sheep rather than feed the sheep. So-called men of God who interpret the church’s role in “social justice” to mean a “church social — for just us.”

I go on to write: “‘Father Mike’ I know. But who the hell are you?”

Meaning? (Also see Acts 19:15) … I have long witnessed your unwavering labor to stem violence — social, economic and otherwise. Your effort to bring media attention (rightly so) to the plight of the poor and disenfranchised. And your encompassing work that extends from children to the elderly — the vast majority beyond the media spotlight.

That sentence is followed by the conjunction “but” — a word “used to introduce something contrasting with what has already been mentioned.” The second sentence asks of “Preacher Man,” but who are you, “only showing up for the cameras, trying to get on TV too”?

Now, I might understand if I got a whole slew of calls from assorted and offended Preacher Men out there. But as they say in church, “Just keep looking straight ahead, and nobody will know it’s you…” LOL.

Clearly, something must have been lost in transmission.

Truth? There is no pastor I respect more.

I once belonged to a church where I found it easier to reach the CEOs of Fortune 500 companies than my pastor. I am a son of the Churches of God In Christ but am rarely if ever invited to speak, not even at the family church where I grew up.

But you sir, have shown me kindness. Extended to me respect and courtesy. Invited me to speak to your congregation. Written to encourage me.

You have been reachable, approachable. The real deal.

You are the conscience of a city that sometimes seems to have lost its mind, its soul.

You are my friend.

Your brother in His service,

JOHN

Email: Author@johnwfountain.com

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