Church leaders call for peace in Pilsen: ‘There can’t be peace without justice’

The rally was organized by a coalition of churches and organizations known as the Pilsen Faith Table initiative, and marked the conclusion of their “40 Days of Peace” campaign.

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Around three dozen people with their arms raised pray and sing, during a peace rally at the Lincoln United Methodist Church, Wednesday, April 13, 2022.

Around three dozen people with their arms raised pray and sing, during a peace rally at the Lincoln United Methodist Church, Wednesday, April 13, 2022.

Tyler Pasciak LaRiviere/Sun-Times

A diverse group of religious leaders, youth organizers and residents came together Wednesday night in Pilsen to call for peace in the neighborhood.

The crowd gathered in the second floor of Lincoln United Methodist Church, 2242 S. Damen Ave., after heavy rain washed out plans for a march down 18th Street.

“We had to mix it up,” said Tanya Lozano, youth pastor and founder Healthy Hood Chicago. “Jesus wasn’t scared of no water, in fact he walked on it. Peace needs to be talked about.”

The rally was organized by a coalition of churches and organizations known as the Pilsen Faith Table Initiative, and marked the conclusion of their “40 Days of Peace” campaign. The campaign began in March and called on all churches, business and residents to be “peacemakers” in the neighborhood and together seek an end to violence.

“There’s been a lot of violence in our neighborhood, you know, people getting shot, there’s also environmental racism going on here,” Lozano said. “We needed a space to talk about peace and what that looks like.”

Attendees were led in prayer by Muslim, Catholic and Methodist leaders to demonstrate a united front among different faiths in the neighborhood against violence.

Father Brendan Curran, left, and Pastor Emma Lozano begin with prayer during a peace rally at the Lincoln United Methodist Church, Wednesday, April 13, 2022.

Father Brendan Curran, left, and Pastor Emma Lozano begin with prayer during a peace rally at the Lincoln United Methodist Church, Wednesday, April 13, 2022.

Tyler Pasciak LaRiviere/Sun-Times

Father Brendan Curran asked the group to put aside their differences and “move those mountains” between them to fight for peace, while Student Minister Abel Muhammad said “there can’t be peace without justice.”

The crowd also discussed with each other what “peace” meant for them. “I feel like peace is creating an atmosphere for healthy conversation,” said one community member. “If we create more environments... to show those feelings or how to process those, I feel like it will create more peace in the world.”

Another said, “Patience, I think patience and understanding.”

Pilsen resident and artist William Guerrero was glad to see so many young people in the crowd.

“It’s very crucial, because we’re the next generation,” Guerrero said. “We need to understand why our communities matter to us. There’s a lot of young people out there that say why do I need to care? Well, because you live here.”

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