“This is what the Lord requires from you: to do justice, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God.”
The mission of our Social Justice Team is to increase awareness of justice issues impacting our brothers and sisters in our local community, Chicago and the state. We provide opportunities for Southminster members and friends to participate in actions that influence public policy toward a more just world.
If you have a passion for justice:
Gun Violence Prevention
As you are aware, gun violence in our country has reached epidemic proportions. It is hard to watch the news any given day without hearing of more victims, many more and more close to home. The Presbyterian Church has long had a voice in gun violence prevention, and we encourage you to join this important conversation.
Ghida Neukirch spoke about the Highland Park Mass Shooting and Response on Sunday, Nov 12th ~ Click for Video
Ghida is the City Manager of Highland Park. She will share what it was like to be present at the devastating Independence Day parade mass shooting in 2022 and how the village responded to this crisis over the ensuing months. She will also provide helpful information on general public safety.
Leading in Crisis and Managing a Community After a Mass Shooting
Highland Park City Manager Ghida Neukirch served as Incident Commander managing the community’s response to the 2022 mass shooting during the City’s Independence Day parade. She will share the City’s response efforts; coordination with federal, state, county, local governments and community partners; on-going resiliency efforts; and how she balanced her professional demands with her personal life as she, her son and nephew were three minutes from the shooting site. Neukirch will also share public safety information and recommendations, and how “living in the yellow” is an important part of her life.
Mary Kay Baldino from Mom’s Demand Action and Gun Violence Prevention spoke on Sunday, Nov 19th ~ Click for Video
Mary Kay is part of the Arlington Heights chapter of Moms Demand Action, a national grassroots movement working to prevent gun violence that was founded after the Sandy Hook school shooting. She will share surprising statistics as well as ways we can all make a difference in keeping people – especially our youth – safe from harm.
Racial, Social and Economic Justice
Many people in our country are just now becoming aware of systemic racism as a result of the death of George Floyd. Our Social Justice team works with our adult and youth members to increase their awareness of racism and what they can do to help eliminate it. We also call on our state and national legislators regularly to ask for their support of legislation that will alleviate racial, social and economic injustice. And we meet regularly with several Northwest Suburban churches to learn about and support each other’s justice efforts.
Specifically, we worked with Restore Justice to help create a more fair criminal justice system for youth (children and young adults, under age 25) convicted of crimes, who are currently serving—or at the risk of serving—40 years or more in the adult system. Overwhelmingly, these are young men from Cook and its neighboring counties. We visit with our state legislators to encourage their support of policies that allow those who are rehabilitated to go home, and that ensure those incarcerated, their families, and victim families have opportunities for healing and justice.
If you would like to learn more you can download a list (click here) of resources addressing racism topics.
We worked with the Community Renewal Society (CRS), we worked hard on the passage of ECPS, the Empowering Communities for Public Safety Ordinance, at the Chicago City Council on July 21, 2021. This historic ordinance brings about a level of community oversight of policing never before seen in this country. ECPS lays the groundwork for more transparency and accountability within the Chicago Police Department, which will lead to the more just treatment of people of color.
We also met with local legislators supporting the Pre-Trial Fairness Act (SAFE-T Act) which eliminates cash bond as part of criminal justice reform.
Southminster Justice team members join with CRS members to help abolish the unfair use of money bond in Illinois.
Our team assisted RefugeeOne for the resettling of about 800 refugees in 2022. About half were from Afghanistan, while many others were from Burma/Myanmar, Syria and Congo. Our first effort included the collection of blankets and comforters to keep the refugees warm.
We also provide support for a family that lives at Chalice House, instead of in detention, while navigating the U.S. asylum process. This home is owned by the Countryside Church Unitarian Universalist in Palatine.
Adequate housing is a human right. A home is the center of our social, emotional and sometimes economic lives — a place to live in peace, security and dignity. It is important to have affordable housing in our area so the people who work here and desire good schools and parks, and safe surroundings for their children are able to access these things. Our Social Justice Team spoke out in support of Crescent Place, a 40-unit, mixed-income housing complex on Rand Road, which opened in Arligton Heights in 2022.
It is also important to provide supportive housing for underserved people with mental and physical challenges. We worked closely with The Task Force, North and Northwest Suburban Supportive Housing for Individuals with Mental Illness, to secure approval from the Village Board for the building of Heart’s Place, a privately owned and operated 18 unit permanent supportive housing community with one and two-bedroom apartments in Arlington Heights.
Ribbon cutting for Heart’s Place, Arlington Heights’ first supportive housing facility. Using the scissors are (from left): Hugh Brady, The Task Force, North and Northwest Suburban Supportive Housing for Individuals with Mental Illness; Richard Koenig, Housing Opportunity Development Corp.; Arlington Heights Mayor Tom Hayes; and Jessica Berzac, UP Holdings Development. Southminster members were active in encouraging the Village Board’s approval for the facility.
Linda Waycie, co-chair of the Faith in Action team, has worked tirelessly to bring supportive housing to the Northwestern Suburbs.
Our Social Justice team also helped turn out support for the Village Board’s approval of Shelter Inc.’s new Transitional Living Program site in Arlington Heights. This is a home for male youths under guardianship by DCFS who are between the ages of 17.50 and 21 and are aging out of the welfare system.
We will continue to fight for affordable, supportive and transitional housing for all who need it.
“Woe to those who make unjust laws, to those who issue oppressive decrees, to deprive the poor of their rights and withhold justice from the oppressed of my people.”