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.