Friday, July 23, 2010

The Peoria Church & Crime And Violence

In this segment  I wanted to break from the normal routine and do a little biblical exposition as it pertains to the mission of the church in modern times. In part, this is due to the response and grumbling that we have heard from many in the ministerial community as individuals, including myself, have promoted and questioned various ministers as to why they have been absentee or non-existent in the current fight against crime and violence within the Peoria community.

Clarification: I first want to affirm that the church is NOT in and of itself, a "crime fighting" organization, neither should it be. However, I believe it is clear that the church should be an extension of the love of God through Christ in the world and an organization which facilitates the peace of God within the community. It's from this perspective that we examine the church's intervention into these issues.

Let's rehash this: According to the Emerge Blog to date there have been over 84 shootings, 17 murders, and a borderline state of martial law imposed upon the citizens of South Peoria.  There is additional police intervention and sweep patrols designed to nab the perpetrators and potential perpetrators of crime and violence. I addressed this both HERE and in a Peoria Journal Star Article and we must be careful about how we proceed. There is, rightfully so, a curfew upon the youth that is being strictly enforced and at least one councilman that even thinks that the adult citizens should have all their constitutional rights taken away and be restricted to their homes after certain hours for their own safety. The problem is that some of the shootings have been at people in or around their homes and houses also, so staying at home doesn't guarantee safety by any means.

The Pastoral Community

In all of this the pastoral community has been asked to engage these issues. Mrs. Monique Caradine of Chicago's WVON has undertaken the same issue through her radio broadcast with many of the same results that we have experienced here in Peoria.

To add context, I have personally made calls, sent letters, appeared on TV asking and promoting events and all. Unfortunately, by large, the pastoral community has simply reverted to a position and condition of "blessed quietness". However, some of them haven't been exactly silent. They have spoken in at least two ways:

1- Through inaction (as I have pointed out)
2- Directly saying that they have no responsibility beyond what they currently do

First, neither of these positions are acceptable. In fact they are ridiculous and only expose a greater problems many of which are beyond the scope of this writing.

Now, this post will undoubtedly offend some who say they are my friends and challenge those who are to continue in the mission of Christ. If it does those things then the post has accomplished it's mission. We need friends who are convicted of the mission of Christ, dedicated to the service of community and humanity and know that the cause of families and those that are hurting are of essential and primary concern. If one must separate themselves because of the mission of Christ, well then...SO BE IT! The scripture outlines that we can't walk together unless we agree. (Amos 3:3)

Here's The Command:

Matthew 28:19-20 ~ "19- Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: 20-Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you always, [even] unto the end of the world. Amen."

Inaction has been a silent facilitator of the current problems that we experience and face within the community. Last year, 2009, I asked pastors and ministers to come together to devise an action plan against crime and violence. We had a meeting in which roughly 30 ministries attended. A second meeting was held and it was down to 3 ministries. A third couldn't be held due to lack of attendance. Now over 30 murders later, we are wondering why things are like they are.

Roll Call

Let me tell you, without being specific, (although I could) who has never stopped to dawn the door of the frequent calls made to the pastoral community by our organization over the last 3 years. With limited exception many of the following organizational churches have failed to unify to show any cause during this recent episode of violence and murder within the black community:

1- With limited exception, the prominent black Baptist churches in the inner city Peoria have not engaged this epidemic in any known public format that I have witnessed.
2- With limited exception, the Apostolic Assemblies or Jesus Only churches in the inner city Peoria have not engaged this epidemic in any known public format that I have witnessed.
3- With limited exception the Assemblies Of God churches have not engaged this epidemic in any known public format that I have witnessed
4- With the exception of 3 churches the remaining 6 or 7 Church Of God In Christ churches in inner city Peoria have not engaged this epidemic in any known public format that I have witnessed. 
5- With the exception of one church, the Methodists, AME or United Methodist, in inner city Peoria have not engaged this epidemic in any known public format that I have witnessed.
6- The Presbyterian church has not engaged this epidemic in any known public format that I have witnessed.
7- The Catholic church has not engaged this epidemic in any known public format that I have witnessed.
8- The Lutheran church has not engaged this epidemic in any known public format that I have witnessed
The list goes on and on. Although churches can be pointed to in general, the lack of response from the churches from within the affected areas are the focus of this writing and the lack of response from them has been astounding.  

Blessed Help

Para-ministries such as Teen Challenge and the ELITE programs of Carl Cannon and few others have been the ones engaged and physically present during this battle against crime and violence. The Peoria County States Attorney's office and the Peoria Police Department has stepped up to provide what seems like a true partnership with the community. There are individuals even within many of the absentee churches who support and encourage efforts and make themselves available. That is a good thing. However, but we must make a transition and challenge leaders and leading organizations who have had their hands off the particular issues to come front and center and engage the issues. There are some, and I could name them specifically, who have never responded to calls, emails, public notices and requests and who have not approached this matter with any sense of urgency. This is to their shame.  

The criticism:

In response to my encouragements and challenges, a pastor recently said that, his mission was in the pulpit and that he didn't have to go to the streets to minister. In other words, what happens in the streets doesn't affect the church.
Houston (or should I say Peoria?)...We have a problem!

You mean to tell me that the city is on fire and all the pastor can think about is pulpit ministry?  (ie: the confines of safety and a safe environment and collecting a tithe) This is a perversion of the word of God and the mission of Christ. Those that support this sort of sentiment either financially or by physical presence only lend themselves to the problem and not the solution.

We have heard this same shoddy sentiment before, speaking that "the people" (members of the congregation) "are the sheep, and sheep beget sheep"...In other words, the pastor has no or little obligation in church growth or proliferation of the ministry. According to them, that's the "sheep's" job...

That sentiment isn't biblical. In fact as I stated, it's seduction and an effort to justify laziness. Now, please understand, my criticism is not against inaction so much, as some may not know what to do or may not be able to do what others can do. My sentiments are against excuses and using the scriptures to justify disunity, ungodliness and a complete seduction of the mind.

I'll point out three biblically centered reasons why the church should be actively engaged in this effort. There are many more, but I'll simply point to three:

1- The Leadership Of Moses

In Exodus 3 and 4, when God called Moses to lead Israel out of Egypt, he called him to LEAD, not follow. There were three things visible as God led HIS people to freedom:

1- God, as a pillar of fire and smoke by night and a cloud by day (Ex. 13:21)
2- Moses, as he followed the Lord (Ex. 3:10)
3- The people as they followed God under Moses direction and course (Ex. 14:31)

The LEADER led the people into the freedom and deliverance of the Lord as HE (God) led and directed. The leader encouraged the people and protected them with the petition that he made to God on their behalf. How can the leader (pastor) do this when he is not engaged within the community or with the people?

2- The Apostleship Of Paul

After his conversion, the Apostle Paul had 3 missionary journeys and a journey under guard to Rome in which he preached continuously. He traveled either by foot, horse or by boat. No Caddy's, Mercedes, Lexus's or BMW's. 

  • Paul's first missionary journey covered approximately 1,200 (plus) miles and took about 2 years.

  • Paul's second missionary journey covered approximately 2,700 (plus) miles (1,290 by sea and 1,410 by land) and took about 2.5 to 3 years.

  • Paul's third missionary journey covered approximately 2,500 (plus) miles (1,190 by sea and 1,325 by land) and took about 4 years.

  • Paul's journey to Rome covered approximately 2,130 (plus) miles (1,920 by sea and 220 by land) and took about 2.5 years.
In all, we have one man (with ministerial companions), who traveled over 8,530 miles in about 11 years to "finish his course", preach to the poor, and minister to those in distress, converting and helping men wherever he could find them. The modern preacher seems to be enamoured with a building, pulpit, microphone and church salary. I have done this for almost 30 years and have seen many come and go with those ideas and sentiments. One thing that seems to be forgotten is the mission to take the gospel to the world and facilitate change within the community.

I would ask that preacher, that delivered that "word of wisdom", what happens when the pulpit is closed or the church is gone? Does all of the calling of God go away because there is no church building or pulpit from which to preach? I begin to wonder was that preacher or minister ever called of God to begin with? Does he have any conviction at all? 

Obviously this pastor/minister has no clue as to the real mission of Christ. As much as I would like to believe otherwise, it would seem that his sentiments are in good company among his peers which value excuses, lethargy and inaction.  

3- The Mission Of Christ Within The Community & Church

A third reason that the church must be engaged is because of the Kingdom purpose of God within the community. The church was called to spread the "good news". The community wasn't to be lent to terrorism and ungodliness in light of the presence of Christ Kingdom's representative's and their promotion and expansion of the mission of Christ in the earth. Jesus said it like this:

Matthew 5:9 ~ "Blessed [are] the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God."

For sure, violence and murder isn't peace. The church was supposed to be the entity bringing peace into the community and was supposed to be actively involved in facilitating that peace. When leaders don't lead the church down this path, the church becomes inactive and deftly silent as it is in Peoria.

Now we must reconcile that the church is not asleep. When Peoria mayor Jim Ardis called the church to a community prayer effort, almost every church in Peoria (with some exception) was in attendance looking for how they could be involved and engaged. That was good, but this wasn't a KINGDOM call, it was a Mayoral call asking the church to do what it was already engaged in doing. The difference is that when political figures are involved there is a certain level of acknowledgement by the political and social elite. 


As you can see, this is thought provoking and I know I haven't won any "haters" and have probably gained a handful of "Christian critics". I would say, however, that those critics were probably critical anyway and more than likely haven't contributed to the solution of the problems that we face.  

A member of my church (New Bethel COGIC) was around another particular pastor when my name came up in a conversation for some reason. The pastor jumped right in to say, "Pastor Burnett talks too much!" If this is a stigma, and if because of that stigma, someone gets angry enough to lose the laziness that has defined them and their efforts during this critical period of Peoria's history, then this post has been more than worth it and has hit the spot right where it should be hit. I am glad to talk too much if someone does more than what they've been doing or if someone is helped as a result. Thanks for the astute observation Pastor _ _ _ _ _. (BTW: I haven't heard or seen anything from him either during this crisis)  

Is the church committing the greatest crime by not being actively engaged in this fight? I don't want to say that they are, but that question should be considered and addressed.

What Can You Do?

1- Talk to your pastor and ask him/her what their community plan against crime and violence is. If they have none ask them to associate themselves with me/us who have a plan and who are actively engaged. We can use their help and support.

2- Encourage other members within your church to become actively involved in these issues and supporting causes and events that arise within the community that facilitate a better community.

3- Join our Facebook page and subscribe to this web page for new and updated information.  

4- If neither your church or pastor is responsive, call (309)688-6599 or email me at for a church referral or for an invitation. DO NOT subject your time and energy to anything or anyone that will only serve itself. The Peoria community needs your help and we can do this together with the Lord and one another.

5- Contribute to the cause. I have not solicited nor received a dime outside of the gun exchange for any of the services that this organization renders. In order to do what must be done however, we need cash to help proliferate the message. Please feel free to send a contribution in any amount to the Peoria Assn. Of Pastors at P.O. Box 6167 Peoria, IL 61601. I commit that every dime will be spent to provide some service or outreach to this community and to spread the anti-crime and violence message.

As an organization, we are far from from being alone in this fight. however we need the churches and leaders than can stand along with us in partnership and effort to do so. We can help change this community and in the process further the mission of Christ. Thank you.

Pastor H. Burnett
Exec. Director/Founder 

Sunday, July 18, 2010

The Face Of Community Terrorism

Pictured below are Skylar Jordan, 24, and Taurean C. Gregory, 24 who the Peoria Police say gunned down 43 year old Anthony Johnson on Frink St. at 10:30 AM Sunday July 18th 2010
Skylar Jordan (Left) Taurean Gregory (Right)
Arrested and booked on charges of first-degree murder and two counts of attempted murder. Jordan also was booked on unlawful use of weapons, aggravated discharge of a firearm and criminal defacement of a firearm. Murder and unlawful activity is the claim to these men's fame. God help their children to be better men. (PJStar.Com)

Unfortunately there are a few more that we can add to the list of SHAME:
Keith Little
Keith Little, 18 was arrested on May 3 and booked on charges of unlawful use of weapons, no firearm owner's identification card and resisting arrest. He was arrested after a vehicle he was in fled from police attempting a traffic stop. A handgun found in Little's possession at that time was sent to the state police crime lab in Morton. On Wednesday, Peoria police investigators were notified that the gun was used in the murder of Abdallah Kattoum, 31, prompting them to interview Little and charge him with first-degree murder, armed violence and armed robbery. (
Daniel Moore
Daniel E. Moore, 31 was found guilty for his role in the robbery of the Flat To Grill in Peoria in June of 2010 and currently faces 21to 45 years in prison as a result. In this case citizens were forced into and locked in a cooler while both they and the establishment was robbed. Although no lives were taken, just think that in a moment anything could have happened. Ronald Batton, 43, and Samuel F. Stewart, 31, both pleaded guilty to armed robbery in return for lesser sentences of 24 and 17 years respectively. Their deals, however, required them to testify at Moore's trial and likely at the trial of the fouth suspect, Terry Payton, 42. So here we have a classic example of 4 lives destroyed and countless family members including the children of all of these men, which will have no or a significantly challenged relationship with their fathers. This is because they thought that becoming a community terrorist and robbing to take what they didn't earn was the best route in life. (


Aside from the obvious flat out stupidity of pretending to be God and taking a life
  • What motivated these actions?
  • Were they ever taught the value of human life?
  • What did their upbringing tell them or how did it affect them?
  • Do they even care about their own lives yet alone that of others?
  • Was drugs or fast living involved?
These are questions I intend to follow and present the answers to as information becomes available. We need to know what is motivating these silly, stupid and wanton acts of indecency among some in Peoria who seem intent on making life difficult for others.

Special Thanks

To those community heroes who turned in information quickly on these terrorists and help send a strong message that community terrorism won't get a pass in Peoria. THANK YOU neighbors and we stand along with the Frink Street/Columbia Terrace community and believe God for removal of all fear.

Pastor Harvey Burnett

Saturday, July 3, 2010

We Pray For The Families Of The Victims Of Peoria's Crime & Violence

The Victims of 2009 & 2010 Violence In Peoria, All Left Families & Relatives. These Are Some Of Them:

Mario McGee, 19
Lonnie Williams, 27
Joshua Hunter, 24
Anil Dhingra, 58
Derrick Wade, 24
Jonathan Pickett, 45
Kermit O. Moore Jr., 21
Eric D. Donelson, 32
Clifford Harvey Jr., 37
Lucas T. Alberts, 2
Harvey Powell Jr., 23
Johnny L. Tyler, 47
Derome T. Brown, 16
Brandon D. Grant, 23
Johnnie L. Whitehead, 35
Arther Bradford, 54
Darnell Moore, 54
Diondre Nunn, 17

Martha Thomas, 38
Dorothy McDonald,83
Stephen McDonald, 65
Jasmine N. Brittine, 19,
Abdallah H. Kattoum, 31
Darryl Miller, 2
Youlandice Simmons, 24
Brianna Simmons, 22
Darresse Roddy, 19.
Nick D. Renfro, 20
TaJi Cross, 20
Orvette Davis, 41
Willie J. Martin, 36
Walter Holmes Jr.,21
Adrian Ortega, 19
~Since this writing~
Orlando Davis, 30
Anthony Johnson, 43

In all over 30 families and countless relatives have been effected by the violence. Each life was valuable to someone and precious to God. That's why we reach and we teach the way we do.


Friday, June 4, 2010

Don't Be A Zero, Be A Community Hero!

The Peoria Association Of Pastors For Community & Spiritual Renewal are reaching out with a Community Hero Campaign designed to combat and directly effect the challenges associated with the "street rule" of "no-Snitchin'".

We want to change the perception around letting individuals and children know that Heroes are the ones who stand to make their community better by demanding accountability from those around them. We simply say,

"Be A Hero. Tell What You Know!"

There are 3 essential elements and messages that we would like to set forth for this campaign:

1- I Am My Brother's Keeper. When someone in my group is not coming up to the standards of behavior, I am not afraid to check him and remind him that we are holding them/him or her accountable for their actions.

2- Crime Doesn't Get The Silent Treatment. Criminals have no heaven or respite in my environment and as a group we are not afraid. Multiple eyes are taking it all in with an intent to deliver information to the proper authorities at the proper time in order to help the community be a safer one. Each one is rewarded according to their open participation in assisting and serving their community.

3- Pastors, Churches, Community Organizations & Civil Organizations Will Support & Facilitate Community Heroes Efforts. Citizens standing to take their community back need support. We will commit to not leave neighborhoods, and individuals without support as they endeavor to stand and take their community bringing it back from the grip of crime and violence.

The Police department has heard the voice of the community. Their commitment to the safety and privacy of those submitting information has never been more strong. Like us, they want to save lives and help improve the quality of life for all of Peoria's citizens.

What We Must Do

I heard a conversation between a first grader and a fellow friend. The child was angry because his friend had told the teacher about his actions and how he had been hurt as a result. the offending child immediately responded by saying, "You're nothing but a tattle-tale, you little snitch!" The child who had been offended felt bad because now he had been given a label all because he was trying to keep from getting hurt further. in other words the message was that his pain was acceptable reality for someone's gain.  


From a very early age, unwritten rules and codes of conduct are established and many of these rules only serve the most dominant and the most threatening or domineering personalities. Like the boy who was offended and let down emotionally, some feel out of place to speak up for themselves and for their community.

The Subculture Of Silence & Violence

The problem is even more pronounced because of efforts such as those by gansta-rappers and gang-members like Rodney Bethea who promoted the "Stop Snitchin" message through videos and using all star personalities like Denver Nuggets NBA All Star Carmelo Anthony. It was an effective approach and got the attention of the youth and the gang culture by the droves. At that time the purpose of the message was to reinforce the idea that the Police and authority weren't the friends of the community and that there would be strong retribution for those who "talk too much" pointing out drug dealers, gang leaders and other trouble makers.

Because of this type of message and a long history of community/police mistrust, the streets have almost clammed up tight with people who witness crime saying absolutely nothing in response to it.  The who thing has set a fear in the hearts and minds of many individuals and communities as a whole. Thus the problem is displayed, criminals seem to think that they will be able to get away with their actions because there community will remain silent about their activities.

We won't be silent anymore!

What You Can Do


There is a Community Rally against crime and violence scheduled for June 27th 2010. "Don't Be A Zero, Be A Community Hero" is the theme. It will be held at the Neighborhood House in the parking lot area from 2-4:00 PM. Please plan to attend. Your participation is essential in sending the message that this is our community and we want it back.


I personally ask each of you to promote the Community Hero message to our youth and fellow citizens wherever they may be. We ask business owners to allow these flyer's to be visible in their places of business. We ask parents and community leaders to share and promote the message that speaking up is a good thing for the community and being silent is not being heroic. We would like everyone to promote the message that this is our community and we will not continue to surrender it to gangs, drugs, crime and violence.

In Addition:

You can ask your church and your pastor to be a part of this association, these community efforts and to unite to address issues of community need. Media can help promote and spread the Community Hero Campaign through PSA's and other forms of assisted advertising, and contributions can be given so that we can expand our efforts and flood the community with positive words, expressions and activities that we know change and save lives.

We need your financial contributions toward this effort and others:

As in The Peoria Gun Exchange Financial Contributions toward this effort are essential to it's success. Individuals considering offsetting the financial costs associated with this or any Pastors Assn. can send their contributions to:

New Bethel
Attn: Peoria Assn. Of Pastors
P.O. Box 6167
Peoria, IL. 61601
(Specify in the memo line what the contribution is for if you want to help support a specific effort.)

Also you may email me at or visit our Facebook Page for updates and announcements on community activities.This is the start of addressing crime and violence at the heart and center of the community's moral base, distilling stigmas against being a part of the solution. We will be a part of the solution and not the problem. Thank you.

Pastor H. Burnett
Exec. Director

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Peoria Pastors Pray For Councilman's Speedy Recovery

Our prayers are extended to God for the speedy recovery of Peoria City Councilman George Jacob who was severely injured in a motorcycle accident on Sunday May 30th 2010.

Councilman Jacob has served the City in the capacity of at-large Councilman since 2005 and has been a part of many major council decisions. Mr. Jacob is also the president of Brewers Distributing, a facility employing over 100 persons and serving the area in beer and liquor distribution. Councilman Jacob also readily supported the first Peoria Gun-exchange held by the Peoria Pastors as well as contributed amounts both personally and on behalf of his business toward the community effort to combat handgun violence.  

There are many things that George does to help the community that are not normally broadcast. By his efforts a midnight basketball league exists that has helped many individuals gain direction in life, work through issues and find friends that they would not have found otherwise. In 2007, I had received numerous calls regarding the safety of a certain property on Peoria's southside. I had seen it for myself that there was a hole in the concrete large enough for a child to slip into and not be seen again. 

After a lunch, which I owe him in return, I asked Mr. Jacob to come with me to the location and see the problem. He did. He too was outraged that something could be left in such a shambles. In less than a week, under his pursuit and efforts, the home was torn down and the ground leveled for safety. Needless to say, that property no longer poses a safety hazard for our children and community. He also extended to me the opportunity to correspond directly with him regarding other situations if he could be of service. 

For those things we recognize Councilman Jacob, but we honor Councilman Jacob for his outstanding integrity, community service and just plainly being a great person!

Get Well My Friend!

Pastor H. Burnett
Exec. Director  

Thursday, May 27, 2010

School Lunches. Have They Contributed To District 150's Suspension Rate?

(Pictured: Monday's 5/24 ground beef at PPD150)

In my initial post "Black Education In Peoria, We Are Under-served" I raised the issue of the minority suspension rate within Peoria Public School District 150. Remember that these were the District supplied facts and statistics that suggest that we have a problem:

For the school year 2008-2009 District 150 enrolled approximately 14,722 students.

  • Approximately 61.1% or about 8,995 of students were Black

  • In 2008-2009 school year there were approximately 7,189 out of school suspensions. This is a 48% overall suspension rate.

  • 86% of all suspensions (6,206 suspensions) were incidents involving Black students.

  • A core of 2,567 Black students generated 6,206 suspensions mentioned above.

  • This means that the suspension rate of minority students (Black students) was 28.5%
Now the critic simply blames all of what we are experiencing upon the parents and rude children, but state wide, the minority suspension rate is up, which is quite an alarming trend. An April 2010 AP report by way of the Chicago Tribune, stated the following regarding the suspensions and expulsions of minority students in Illinois public schools:
— Suspensions of black students increased 75 percent from 1999-2008, while those of white students dropped five percent.
— In 2007-08, blacks accounted for 51 percent of all suspensions, even though they make up about one-fifth of the student enrollment. Whites accounted for 28 percent of the suspensions, although they make up nearly three-fifths of the enrollment.
— Expulsions of black students increased 56 percent from 1999-2008, while those of whites increased 16 percent.
— In 2007-08, blacks accounted for 48 percent of all expulsions, and whites accounted for 33 percent.
— Since 1989, suspensions have grown by 82 percent and expulsions by 171 percent, while the statewide school enrollment has increased 18 percent.
— It matters little where in the state students attend school — Chicago, suburbs, rural or urban areas, affluent or low-income. In all cases, blacks were disciplined at higher rates than whites, especially compared to their proportion of the enrollment
There is a higher disciplinary rate for Black students in Illinois. Now, unless one is willing to believe that the Black community from which these students are coming is just somehow letting down the standard of behavior and education out of hand, we should look at the factors that feed into these occurrences. In this article we will focus on one of them.  

Diet & Nutrition
(Pictured: Monday 5/24 1st tray of grease pulled off the ground beef that was fed to the students) 

 For sure there are many areas of concern and many moral and value issues must be addressed both within the family and amongst the teaching community. However, there is another issue, equally as important and impacting, that has been overlooked in traditional educational settings. School lunches and lunch programs have received much attention as of late. Most recently school board member Dr. Gorenz addressed school meals from the standpoint of providing healthy choices:

"From a medical standpoint, it would seem like we should at least have that discussion - that's one thing we do control and that's a huge amount of empty calories that we provide directly or indirectly to students," ~ Dr. D. Gorenz PJStar 5/11/10

What he failed to do however, was to make mention of the link between a quality meal and student behavior. We should ask that question for I believe it is fair when we look at District 150 suspension rate and numbers.

At first glance it may seem that meals at school have nothing or very little to do with behavioral problems at school. Quite the contrary is true. Current studies affirm that the quality of meals at schools directly effect child behavior, attention span, focus and all of the things that children need to have a successful educational day. This is one area that Peoria Public schools have failed to address when addressing student behavior. Are our children being malnourished at school?

In a school district with 61 to 62% Black students, it's no wonder that a good portion of those students either pay for or received the public school lunch and breakfast at a free or reduced cost. We believe that it is the obligation of District 150 to examine the scope, extent and the effects of the current lunch program upon the students.

As stated above, current statistics identify that approximately 2,567 students generated about 6,206 suspensions. Exact data of how many students are on a free or reduced lunch program are out at the present but it is easy to imagine that there are at least 2,500 to 3,000 students on the program. In other words there are many students on the program and complaints regarding the quality of the meals abound. Here is recent information that we have received from various sources regarding the lunch program as currently administered 

  • In Feb. 2010 after being audited, the food vendor, Chartwells, gave instructions to increase portion size on their meals because the children were being under-served. How long they had been under serving the children went without note.

  • Until approximately March 2010 the cheese that was delivered by Chartwells to the cafeterias to provide sandwiches for students who either didn't have a lunch or couldn't afford a lunch had ZERO nutritional value in ALL nutritional value categories. Once again, the modification has been recent to an alternate type and brand of cheese. 

  • Chartwells seems to have a food delivery plan that offers different quality lunch and meals to different size and types of schools. The public school system seems to receive a lower quality meal than other types of schools. 

  • Lunch participation and purchase at many schools has decreased dramatically and lots of food is being thrown away because it is either cold, unprepared (even when prepared according to standards) or of poor quality. 

  • As pictured above, the grease contained within the ground beef used to prepare various dishes is excessive and of low quality.

  • According to the menu, every Wednesday is breakfast for lunch day. This usually consists of 2 small sausages, 2 small pancakes, and fruit and a drink. After having observed the children eat the lunch for myself, it's no wonder there are problems after lunch almost every day.      
Example Of A Change:

This situation is by no means hopeless. In Appleton, WI a change in the lunch was made and a total change in student behavior was observed almost immediately. The following PDF is a case study on what happened in Appleton and why Peoria Public Schools should do a study on what it would take to do the same. The question is do they have the will to do the same?
From the results of Appleton, WI, we can see that diet and exercise have a direct and positive effect on student behavior. This slight change of direction changed the plotted course of school performance and satisfaction for all students. We have an opportunity to do the same for our children.

A good lunch not only improves student behavior, potentially lowering school suspensions and expulsions, but also increases test scores. New York with over 1 Million students saw a dramatic increase in test scores when the school lunch program was modified and upgraded to provide nutritional and desirable lunches.

This is one step among many that can be done. However, with that said we must ask the following questions: 

  • Has District 150 seriously considered the effects of school lunch on child behavior?

  • Has District 150 have an action plan to address the disparity of suspensions among minority children?

  • Does District 150 have the will to study and address this issue and give a definitive and educated answer to their current and future position on the issue?
This is over a $3 Million per year industry in Peoria. The true costs are measured in the educational experiences of District 150 children and the perception of families both inside and outside of the District. With so much at stake, District 150 cannot sit silently on this issue. I for one do not plan to allow them to simply skirt by. There are over 14,000 reasons for my participation and 2 of them are at the top of that list.

Pastor Harvey Burnett
Exec. Director



Diet and nutrition related to learning ability:

The science behind feeding the brain:

Nutrition behavior and learning:

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

What Is The Real Measure Of 500 Feet?

Peoria Pastors Join Riverside Community Church In Raising Concerns Over Big Al's Relocation

In a Tuesday May 25th article in the Peoria Journal Star, Riverside Community Church (Pastor John King) voiced their concern over an ordinance that the City Of Peoria either wasn't aware of or simply didn't care about violating as it pertains to the relocation of a Peoria strip-club. The disagreement may put the brakes on a $102 million hotel development project.

The controversy centers around Big Al's strip club and it's proposed new proximity to Riverside Church. Depending upon how it is measured, Riverside's facilities would be approximately 380 feet away from the proposed relocation site of Big Al's. This is problematic as the ordinance calls for an adult use establishment to remain a minimum distance of 500 feet from a church, school or other adult use establishment and 700 feet from any residentially zoned properties.

Up until Riverside voiced their concern, it seemed that noone stopped to consider what Big Al's relocation would mean to adjacent businesses or organizations. Part of that was probably due to the fact that Big Al's is close to a church already and another part may stem from an unsuccessful case that was tried and lost to Elliott's strip-club in North Peoria. At either rate it seemed that the council had "tunnel vision" with little discussion for a standing city ordinance and how that would relate to Riverside church. Riverside is a visible and valuable asset to the Peoria Community. Riverside Community Church adds significant value to the residents of Peoria, IL. and has been used for many public event which the city has endorsed.

Riverside's website states the following:
"Since arriving in the City of Peoria, Riverside has renovated two rapidly deteriorating landmark buildings within the city, and in doing so has invested $4.5 million in these buildings with no monetary support from the government. Riverside invests over $200,000 annually on programs that directly benefit the inner-city of Peoria. Through our Dream Center Peoria programs over the last eight years we have provided 14,000 backpacks with school supplies to kids in need, and this year we are introducing a program for school kids’ uniforms. We help over 500 families a month with clothing, food, household goods and furniture. Our state of the art youth facility provides a safe environment for kids in the city to flourish and find refuge from the streets. Our AOK events mobilize volunteers from over 10 churches to impact 10 targeted areas of the city through acts of service on a Saturday, every other month. And from fall to spring each year more than 250 kids and youth participate in DCP athletics. In addition, Riverside invests over a million dollars annually into the local economy.

I have written to all of our city council members. In the letter I stated, “The reasons the original ordinance was passed are the same reasons we appeal to you to vote for the upholding of the said ordinance - the safe guarding of women, youth and children within the vicinity. Please, this must be your main concern, as it is ours. We want to appeal to you as the representative of the people to please vote to uphold the law - the original ordinance.”

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Black Education In Peoria...We Are Under-served

Sad Results Of A Peculiar Condition

According to a 2003 informational release by the US Justice Dept.

  • 10.4% of the entire African American population aged 25 to 29 was incarcerated. By comparison 2.4% of Hispanic men and 1.2% of white men in the same age group suffered the same fate.

  • US prison population surpassed 2 million for the first time and since 1990 has doubled in size.

  • 10,000 inmates under age 18 are held in adult prisons and jails in 2002

  • Women in federal prison reached 97,491

  • In 2000, 791,600 black men were in prison while only 463,700 were enrolled in college nationwide. 
According to a 2008 report from the Justice Policy Institute

  • 3,161 African-Americans per 100,000 were under the custody or care of federal or state penile system, this compares to 1,200 per 100,000 Hispanics and 487 per 100,000 whites. This means that black men in the United States are 6.5 times more likely to be in prison than white men and that Hispanics are 2.5 times more likely to be in prison than white men.  
These numbers are astounding and only tell part of the story. One could question how education could be associated with these sort of results. Although these numbers don't tell a simple story, education, and lack of educational opportunities, even  if that means squandered educational opportunities, have contributed to many of the current trends that we see in crime and the sheer incarceration numbers that we find within the black community in general. Although in many cases the table of justice has been slanted against the poor and minority, the inability to secure and experience a quality education cannot go without examination.

Access to education and a solid educational experience is a must in order to create and facilitate change within society. Across the nation, Black students tend to be suspended at much higher rates than students of other races or ethnicities (Hoffman, Llagas, & Snyder, 2003). Based on what we know and what we are currently experiencing we must hold Peoria District 150 accountable and we must hold the results of the educational experience of the black and minority community under greater scrutiny.

Peoria Dist. 150 Black Student Suspension Rate:

Here is why we are concerned:

  • For the school year 2008-2009 district 150 enrolled approximately 14,722 students.

  • Approximately 61.1% or about 8,995 of students were Black

  • In 2008-2009 school year there were approximately 7,189 out of school suspensions. This is a 48% overall suspension rate.

  • 86% of all suspensions (6,206 suspensions) were incidents involving Black students. 

  • A core of 2,567 Black students generated 6,206 suspensions mentioned above. 

  • This means that the suspension rate of minority students (Black students) was 28.5% 

Thursday, February 18, 2010

God Can Restore Our Streets But We Must Not Give Up!

This is an example of what the Lord can do in our streets. This effort may take one person at a time to reach just one more, but it can be done and we are situated to do it.

When Values Change

When values change the priorities of indivuals change, the effects are immediately felt within the community. If indivuals don't value life or have purpose they cannot contribute to the community of those who have the value for life, living and the community.

Community groups, individuals and businesses can be a part of facilitating the change that is so desperately needed. Churches are an essential part to providing neighborhood stability, accountability and services that address the spiritual and emotional needs of community members. In partnership, I believe that there can be a fundamental change in the results that we are seeing at street level.

This is not a top down effort. This is a community wode effort and your help is essential to this process. Please join us on Facebook for updates and community plans.

Together, and with the help of the Lord, I believe that we can do what concealed carry and increased police presence cannot do. Stay tuned!

Pastor Harvey Burnett

Monday, February 15, 2010

Anti-"Stop Snitchin" Campaign


The following video uses offensive language and is in general quite offensive and valueless in it's message. Why do we post such a video? This video signifies the cultural and moral value breakdown that has occurred among many of our youth. It is sentiments like this that facilitate a high murder rate within the inner city especially among young black men who have faced the brunt of this pain.

We will rise to address this issue by asking the Peoria community to develop an "anti-no snitch" campaign. As stated we ask for the assistance of the WHOLE community, not just parts of it. Please join our Facebook Page for current event updates as we add additional information on this project. Thank you for for being able to see the forest and not just the trees and also for your continued support.


Pastor Harvey Burnett

Saturday, February 13, 2010

A Community Call To What???

Did Our Mayor Exclude Community Leaders?
Was It In Order To Score Political Points?

Many of you reading this will automatically experience a knee-jerk reaction. I only ask that you read on as I place a context with the question.

On Saturday Feb. 13th 2010 Peoria's Mayor Jim Ardis along with State Representative Jehan Gordon and Senator Dave Koehler are sponsoring a Community Call To Action to uncover and develop new strategies in dealing with crime and violence in the Peoria area. If that were all there was to the strory, that would be a good thing, but as usual, it's not all.

Let's Go Back:

On Thursday Feb. 12th 2009 after the murder of Mario McGee, I and the Pastor's Association called a Community Call To Action at the Higher Dimensions Church (Pastor Bob Randle). This meeting was attended by over some 40 indivuduals representing various church groups and concerned citizens. We talked about the conditions of the city and made our best efforts to commit to strategize to change things at a grass roots level. We discussed gangs and their influence and how we as community groups and concerned citizens can change our community together.

Before I go into the heart of the matter and my concern as expressed to Mayor Ardis regarding the Feb. 13th event, I must lay some ground work so that the reader, even those critical or misinformed regarding my statements, can get a grasp on my concern.

These Are The Facts:

1- On Tue Jan 5th 2010 at 1:55 PM,  I contacted the Mayor's office with the following email:
God bless and Happy New Year!
Can we get together at your earliest opportunity. I have some ideas I'd like to share and some things I need your help with as it pertains to the community. Thanks.
2- The Mayor responded to my request on Tue. Jan 5th at 3:15 PM with the following email:
Rev Burnett
I have asked Kristie to try and confirm some times/dates that will work for you so we can get together and talk. I have to tell you that I find it difficult to come in on the discussion after the press conference/photo-ops have taken place but I will continue to try and get together asap. We need to communicate better I guess. I look forward to our meeting.
ja (emphasis added)
My request to the Mayor took place around the same time that we conducted a community prayer vigil for the last (17th) murder victim of 2009, Diondre Nunn. The best I can figure is that the Mayor had seen me on TV along with the family carrying on this vigil. That was the context in which I greeted his statements. This led to the following response by me:

3- I responded to the Mayor's previous email on Tue. Jan 5th 2010 at 3:42 PM with the following email:
Mr. Mayor,
Thanks for the response, but I am at a complete loss regarding it. To hear you say things like"photo-ops"/ "press conference" concerning anything that I would like to discuss or even recently discussed is baffling. Please expound on your concern regarding this matter, if you would.

I had also wanted to meet with Jim Mont.., Eric Turner, and Clyde Gully to go over some new ideas but I think a private meeting may be best for you and I so that we can be as specific as necessary. I appreciate it. Thanks again.

Pastor Harvey Burnett

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

"I Am My Brother's Keeper" Peoria, IL 2010 Safe Community Campaign

Citizens and community groups of Peoria, Illinois have an opportunity to join themselves in the cause of making and creating a safer community.

In order to spread the word on events more quickly, we have opened a Facebook page as an informational exchange for pastors, churches and community leaders who will avail themselves to that specific cause. (Please sign up for that page if you are a member of Facebook) This site is to set forth strategies and community services to address the declining morality among our youth, violence and violent activities within the community, drug proliferation and the problems associated with it at a grass roots level. We also want to rise as a community to address gangs and gang related issues as a solid and cohesive body of citizens and community groups.

We are our brother's keepers and the avenue fit for community restoration. In 2010 we plan to begin a new mission of joint service and ego-effacing community involvement to tangibly address the problems that we face.
This is what we intend to do:
Section I
Development Of A Community Action Plan
One of the essential elements in this venture is the establishment of what I call a "Community Action Plan". A Community Action Plan is a preemptive measure designed to address issues within various sections of our community and focus specific attention on the areas experiencing the most devastating troubles.

The development of this plan involves serious and dedicated participation of 4 groups:
1- The churches located within the problem areas
2- The neighborhood associations
3- Peoria, Illinois citizens (and others wishing to assist)
4- Business organizations and entities which operate within the effected areas.

Until now, the inner city community, and black community in particular, has never developed a plan for in and of itself. This is part of the problem. A community with no vision for itself and an underestimation of the value of its component parts will remain underserved. It's time for all that to change.

Although an appropriate plan has many essential pieces, community safety is the first area to address especially due to what we've all witnessed in 2009.

A safe community includes a reaffirming and building up of social and moral values, family and social standards, gaining increased accountability from social organizations, businesses and financial institutions that operate within the community, and encouraging greater accountability from governmental agencies such as the City Police, City Council and City Licensing Committees.

Warning: This will not be another Peoria "window dress" operation. One that looks good, feels good but yields no results. Our aim is to actually place some effort and action behind our faith and hopes.

Since the church is such a vital part of this transformation, definitive actions will be a measure of our joint success. I encourage each individual to challenge their pastor and spiritual leader to be involved. Participation in the Pastor's Association, although encouraged, IS NOT essential to any church, pastor, or leader's participation.

All hands on deck!
Section II:
Values Transfer
In 2010 I will do my best to encourage the model of morality transfer that is rooted in African American and ANE (Ancient Near Eastern) cultures. This model is somewhat different than the model we have become accustomed to in western society however this model is highly effective and still in operation in may homes and families today, albeit not nearly enough.

1- Value Transfer Through The Elders & Community Leaders

In western society all it takes for one to teach and instruct others is a certain accreditation or certification usually given by others. In ANE cultures teaching and value transfer was done by a specific group of people with not only knowledge, but also experience, who were charged to preserve the culture and transfer information accurately and intensely.

Biblically, Paul speaks of this same method of information transfer in I Cor. 11:23 stating that which he had "received" of the Lord he also "delivered". Dr. Richard Bauckham in his ground breaking work 'Jesus & The Eyewitnesses' [Eerdmans 2006], reveals the terminology and usages of those particular words, claiming that these inflections indicated a student/teacher or owner/apprentice type of relationship that facilitated careful transmission of certain facts, guarded over by meticulous attention to detail. This type of information transfer was essential to preserve culture, message, meaning and overall purpose.

In other words there was a certain qualification of standards for information transfer from the transferor to the transferee. The transferor had to be qualified by experience and full knowledge of the subject matter and the transferee had to be equally able and ready to receive such information transfer reciting it properly and in context.

We do not use this method today on a wide scale and our community suffers as a result. Example, how many of us are yet blessed to cherish the words of senior members of our families? Do we not pay special attention to them and what they say to us on special occasions and holidays? Some of us may not have that experience, but others know that the experience and wisdom of our elders can be a very good teacher when that experience and wisdom is sound, has endured the test of time and right.

This is the model is not dependent upon the aged of the individuals transferring values, but it is dependent upon the integrity and wisdom of those that do.

2- Value Transfer Within The Context Of Group & Community

Building upon principle #1 we also find that values transferred with a group setting were values that are immediately made accountable.

In other words, in a private setting no one but the teacher and the student may know the information transferred or the expectation as a result of what is said. However, in the group setting, expectations are delivered publicly and a system of accountability, measurement and monitoring is immediately set in place.

Not only is public accountability is essential, but public pulse is essential and is a must. The status and health of the community assessed by the community itself, further breeds a sense of community and allows individuals to come away with common concerns and remedies to common and sometimes previously otherwise unknown problems. In a word, it's communication and a flow of information on a regular basis within the community.

3- Where Do I Come In?

You are essential to the operation of the complete plan. Each community member brings certain talents and experiences to the table and certain unique knowledge of their particular neighborhood to light.

Because of the uniqueness of each individual and diversity of gifts from neighborhood to neighborhood, there are certain opportunities to inject life, health and direction into what was otherwise dead and lifeless situations. You are essential to that purpose.

Closing Word:

We cannot afford to believe that a "star minister", "ministry" or "charismatic personality" will address the multiple issue that must be addressed within our community and deliver the value statements that we must encourage our children to grasp on their own and by their own accord. Frankly, this work encompasses one individual and needs ownership of the community and not a single individual.

Under President Bill Clinton, then First Lady Hillary Clinton, produced a book and delivered the ancient African proverb that "it takes a village to raise a child". This saying originated from the Nigerian Igbo culture and proverb "Ora na azu nwa" which means it takes the community/village to raise a child.

I pose that it will take a community/village to build a city. The efforts of our city leaders, though commendable are not able to take full effect for all of us until we begin to build together.

Pastor Harvey Burnett
Exec Driector Peoria Assn. Of Pastors