In a Jan 30th 2008 article in the Peoria Journal Star, the Peoria Dream Center unveiled an idea to adress crime and violence within the City of Peoria by creating 10 church zones with the aim of serving the areas most effected by crime and violence.
Some of the responses to that article sought to impune the Black Church of Peoria for it's perceived, previous non-actions against crime and violence. This prompted the following response from Pastor Harvey Burnett the Executive Director of the Peoria Association Of Pastors For Community & Spiritual Renewal:
"The Black Church is where it has always been...in the middle of the conflict, suffering the brunt of poor education, economic and social inequity and desparity, and grappling with those who choose to self-medicate instead of address the establishment that has helped proliferate their condition.
The Black Church in Peoria arose in 2007 with an all inclusive community march against crime and violence on June 30th, and the Peoria Gun Exchange which lasted for 8 weeks out of the year and ignighted much conversation and ACTION against crime and violence to head off a RECORD year of murders within our city.
The Black Church initiated a ongoing dialogue between police and city officials as recently as 2008 to address and tackle the issues of crime and violence and strategize to include ALL churches (Black & White) in the process.
The Black Church in May of 2007 sought and ASKED for the inclusion of ALL CHURCHES in Liberate Our Youth Month. The Black Churches did then as they do for 2008, calling on all churches even those that are in areas usually non effected by the crime and violence, to JOIN our efforts in Liberate Our Youth Month May 2008 and activly involve themselves in helping provide solutions and support outreach addressing the problems we all see and are aware of.
The Black Church is on record to having stood at Peoria City Council to address the issues of liquor expansion and liquor proliferation, which facilitates crime and violence and has a detremental effect on families all over Peoria but especially on Peoria's minority and poor individuals.
The Black Church stood AGAINST liquor expansion and for the betterment of the entire community even asking for a reversal of liquor sales times to 2:00 AM instead of the current 4:00 AM. The Black Church LED this effort AGAINST the eventual direction of both the City Council, certain business owners and the liquor commission itself.The Black Church responded to issues prevelant in our neighboorhoods at OUR OWN expense through many fine pastors and ministers at a grass roots level regardless of who participated and who didn't participate.
As you can see the Black Church's record is on file at both Peoria City Hall, The Peoria Liquor Commission, City Records and the neighborhoods in which we serve. Our actions are further well documented by the Peoria Journal Star and other fine news organizations throughout Central Illinois.
The question is, where have YOU been, and what have you contributed to OUR ongoing effort both by way of time, energy, prayers or finance?
As a church we do not suffer or accept an indictment of nonaction from any of those who have not answered the call to service or participated in assisting, in any way, those of us who have brought forth well thought out solutions and strategies to our City's problems of crime and violence. The Black Churches efforts is to help create a better Peoria for ALL men, women and families of all races and ethnicities in Peoria and to do our part in upholding and shaping the betterment of Peoria.
As you may see, the Black Church IS engaged in efforts that have ALREADY been set forth. Although the Dream Centers Actions are welcome and encouraged the reader need not think that our City is left without a witness and standard against crime and violence if any one individual or organization does not answer the call to service.
We move forward as the records reflect that we have always done, under the direction of God through prayer and against the tide of political corectness and racial segregation.Thank you,
Pastor Harvey BurnettExec. DirectorPeoria Assn. Of Pastors For Community & Spiritual Renewal"
The original Journal Star story can be viewed here: http://www.pjstar.com/stories/013008/REG_BFL0DE1S.033.php