Peace and Justice Committee
About the Committee
The Peace & Justice Committee/Episcopal Peace Fellowship Chicago Chapter is a network of individuals from across the spectrum of our diocesan life. The Committee welcomes all who seek to work on the root causes of oppression and violence. In 2017, we are focusing on peace in Israel and Palestine, how we can invite the diocese to respond to racism and the Black Lives Matter campaign, and participation in Chicago's annual LGBT Pride Parade. We are looking for new membership to help guide our work this year in these areas.
At the same time, we seek not only to be a resource for information on our target areas, but also to form a network of parish liaisons that will allow the committee to be a center of awareness of issues and actions that are key to each community in the parish. Anyone wishing to be a parish liaison – feeding vital information on education and advocacy between the committee and the parish and vice versa – is welcome to join the network.
Attend a Peace & Justice Committee Meeting:
For information about upcoming meetings please contact Jackie Lynn by email or phone (847.376.9358).
In addition to meetings, the Peace and Justice Committee offers congregations and small groups the following suggestions and resources for fall programming:
- Gun Violence: Committee member Ellen Lindeen (St. Michael's Barrington) recommends the documentary film Under the Gun (downloadable from Itunes, Amazon, Xfinity and others) 1hr50min. Reviews call it “masterfully crafted” and "the best film on firearms since the 2002’s Oscar-winning documentary “Bowling for Columbine.” The committee encourages parishes to have a showing of Under the Gun followed by a discussion lead by the Illinois Council on Handgun Violence (ichv.org) to focus on Illinois initiatives to reduce gun violence.
- Islamophobia: What is it and where does it come from? Christianity shares much with Islam in the Abrahamic Tradition, yet the popular press would have us at odds with our co-religion. If Islam is not the problem, how can we bridge the divide? New committee member Charles Stewart (Church of Our Saviour) Professor Emeritus, UIUC and director of programing at Northwestern’s Institute for the Study of Islamic Thought in Africa, is available for presentation and discussion. Contact Professor Stewart by email.
- Israel/Palestine: Committee members are available to speak to your congregation about the No Way To Treat a Child campaign that "seeks to challenge Israel's prolonged military occupation of Palestinians by exposing widespread and systematic ill-treatment of Palestinian children in the Israeli military detention system." Visit the campaign website and contact Newland Smith or The Rev. Anthony Vaccaro for more information.
- Interfaith Coalition Against Racism: The Peace & Justice Committee is a founding member the Interfaith Coalition Against Racism (ICAR). ICAR is organizing an event for the third week of November, one year later of the release of the LaQuan McDonald video, and seeks individuals and faith groups to get involved. Contact Jackie Lynn, Peace & Justice Committee chair for more information.
The Rev. S. Michael Yasutake Peace and Justice Award
The Rev. Seiichi Michael Yasutake Peace and Justice Award recognizes those who hold peace and justice as the key passion of Jesus Christ; who devote time and talent to the cause of the oppressed in our midst and the lifting up of justice where there is little to none.
The Yasutake Award Committee seeks nominees (individuals or organizations) whose lives and mission represent the values that Michael Yasutake adhered to:
- A commitment to the gospel message of nonviolence and peacemaking;
- A willingness to engage the 'other';
- A shown ability to take risks in order to live out (or to witness to) the Gospel.
A review committee from the Peace and Justice Committee will make the final award selection. and the recipient(s) will receive an honorarium of $250.00.
THE 2016 S. MICHAEL YASUTAKE AWARD Recipient: Thomas P. Robb
The 2016 recipient of The S. Michael Yasutake Award was Thomas (Tom) P. Robb, who received the award at the 179th Annual Convention of the Episcopal Diocese of Chicago in November. Nominated for the award by the Very Rev. John David van Dooren, rector of Church of the Atonement in Chicago, Mr. Robb has been an activist for peace and justice for 45 years.
Staring in the 1980s, Robb worked in a number of ways to assure medical care for children of poor families and children of migrant farm workers, serving on the Medical Advisory Committee of the State of Illinois' Medicaid program, working with the American Academy of Pediatrics, and developing a national network of volunteer physicians for children of migrant farm workers.
In the 1990s, inspired by then Presiding Bishop Browning's request that parishes in the U.S. assist families from Bosnia, he organized a pool of open homes in Evanston to meet the need. In addition to housing, he led efforts to provide transportation, access to schools, rental housing and developed an English as a Second Language (ESL) program at St. Luke's. Through this work, Robb was able to form an employment partnership with refugees, providing jobs painting, rehabbing and cleaning homes and apartments. He was a leader in the development of the Bosnian/Hercegovina American Community Center and partnered with the Wisconsin Methodist Annual Convention, which placed more than 80 refugees in Wisconsin.
Since 1994, Robb and St. Luke's have sponsored refugees from Kosovo, Iran, Liberia, Somalia, Burundi and the Congo. He worked with the "Lost Boys of Sudan", including the forming of the Chicago Association of Lost Boys of Sudan in his living room, and enlisting resources from across the diocese and beyond to help meet the unique needs of this group of 125 young Sudanese men. This has included the organization of jobs, educational opportunities, and acculturation to the U.S. and Chicago.
More recently, Robb has worked to help resettle refugees from Iraq, Syria and Burma. As a member of the Episcopal Church of the Atonement in Chicago, he is now helping to organize that church's mentoring and support of a refugee family through the Refugee One resettlement program. Now retired, Robb continues his work with parish and community partners to help "ignite in oppressed and marginalized people their own sense of worthiness so that they may claim their rightful place as loved members of God's creation."
FRIENDS AND RESOURCES
- CROSSwalk Chicago
- Episcopal Peace Fellowship
- Illinois Council Against Handgun Violence
THE 2015 S. MICHAEL YASUTAKE AWARD: The Rev. Dr. Bonnie A. Perry
The 2015 recipient of The S. Michael Yasutake Award was The Rev. Dr. Bonnie A. Perry, who received the award at the 178th Annual Convention of the Episcopal Diocese of Chicago in November.
Bonnie Perry is rector of All Saints’ Episcopal Church in the Ravenswood neighborhood of Chicago and has been a priest in the Diocese of Chicago for over twenty years. In that time, she has worked to engage the other on a consistent basis, perhaps no more so than in her founding of the meal program with Ravenswood Community Services (RCS). RCS feeds, on a weekly basis, hundreds of people at a sit-down, family style meal where our neighbors are engaged as people with dignity; not just strangers looking for a bag of groceries. This program is essential to the north side of Chicago, and has played a vital role in the revitalization of All Saints' since Bonnie was called to be Rector in the 1990s.
Bonnie's prophetic work with the Chicago Consultation is unparalleled in the Diocese. This organization has engaged Anglicans across the world in serious theology and discussion for nearly a decade; and the work continues. Just this year, delegates from the consultation met in Ghana to discuss human sexuality with African bishops and priests. No meeting of this kind had taken place until the Consultation traveled to South Africa in 2014 to do so. This healing work is the essence of living out the Gospel: making ways for peace and justice, despite the risks involved.
In 2011, Bonnie worked with then-seminarian Jack Clark to found CROSSwalk, the Diocese's first major engagement with gun violence in Chicago. In its first year, the initiative brought together a coalition of faith and community leaders to create a four-mile vigil and march through the city that drew nearly 2,500 people. CROSSwalk later transformed into CROSSwalk to Work, a program that now finds summer jobs for at-risk youth in Chicago. Amongst all of this, Bonnie remains a dedicated pastor that engages her congregation on a weekly basis with thoughtful sermons and excellent pastoral care.
Come, See, Listen Israel: Palestine 2014-2015
Report by the Rev. Anthony J. Vaccaro, M.D.
On December 27, 2014, fourteen members of the Episcopal Diocese of Chicago found themselves boarding a bus in Tel Aviv, embarking on a 13-day pilgrimage that has changed their lives and the lives of those they have touched. Known as Come, See, Listen 2014-2015, this was no ordinary pilgrimage to the Holy Land. It was not a trip designed for participants to visit age-old relics and the ruins of the past. This trip was created so that its participants would come face to face with the living stones who inhabit the land that we call holy--the land that God promised to Abraham and his descendants, among which you and I are counted and for which, we are to be held accountable.
We began our journey in the disputed city of Jerusalem, the sacred city of Judaism, Christianity and Islam. After visiting a wall of prayer, a sacred space meant to bring God’s chosen closer to God, we traveled through another kind of wall; one that separates God’s children from each other and from the love of God. While in Bethlehem, we visited the birthplace of Jesus and by our encounters with Palestinians there and throughout the West Bank, Jesus became ever-present to us in the stories told and in the sharing of meals. Over time, we too, became Christ-like, in our witness of the oppression that keeps Palestinians from living dignified, productive and healthy lives, while also perpetuating an atmosphere in which the people of Israel find themselves living in fear.
Our journey took us to the mountaintop where we rejoiced in the Transfiguration of Christ in ourselves. We were in awe of the beauty of the land and walked quietly along the ancient paths upon which Jesus and his disciples once traveled and that still call monks away from the cities into the wilderness. We found laughter in the joy that still fills the hearts of those who have not given up hope and we were nourished and strengthened by the hospitality that met us along our way.
Evenings met us with the quiet of compline and a sharing of experiences, followed by fellowship in the city square or encounters with locals before a well-deserved rest to meet the new day with strength and vigor.
We invite you now, to take that journey with us by visiting our blog. Be sure to scroll down to the bottom of the page in order to begin at the beginning. Pictures are included in the blog, but there is also a separate page of pictures.
Here are a few comments from some of the participants of Come, See, Listen 2014-2015:
“When I boarded the 10 hour flight to Tel Aviv I thought I was traveling to Israel and Palestine to see the “Holy sites” and also get a bit of education about the “situation” in the Holy Land. I had done my reading and thought I was prepared.
When I climbed on an airplane to return to Chicago 12 days later I brought with me stories and conversations the customs officials at Tel Aviv might have wished I left behind.
It was a great trip. Troubling and illuminating. And one I want to talk with others about. All of us have stories. Please listen as we speak out about our experience.” --Toby Roberts, Church of Our Saviour, Chicago
“What a privilege it was to travel to the Holy Land, to see the sites and meet the people. It was a roller coaster of awe, seeing the Biblical stories in new light, and of deep sorrow in witnessing the robbery of human rights, the destruction of a way of life, and the fear that grips so many hearts causing walls to be built and stones to be hurled. It was also humbling and encouraging to witness the hope that still lives despite the odds, and the creative and life giving ways that hope plays out with people on both sides. The trip has called me to prayerful and attentive response. I will tell their stories as they are now part of mine.” --Esther Simonson
“Within a short period of time, we had opportunities to encounter Palestinians in Israel, Jerusalem and the West Bank, religious leaders, Jewish and Palestinian Israeli citizens including in an illegal settlement in the West Bank, and Bedouins in the desert. We met with knowledgeable social justice activists, Zionist activists and were embraced by the Christian Palestinian families who welcomed us into their homes. We witnessed and experienced refugee camps, the destruction of Palestinian homes and livelihoods, the oppression of restrictions upon the dignity and opportunities of Palestinians, the privileges reserved for Jewish Israelis, the destruction of Palestinian and Bedouin villages. We listened to explanations justifying the laws, policies and practices of the State of Israel. I returned home with a commitment to share with others the voices of Christian and Muslim Palestinians.” --Barbara Phillips, St. Paul & the Redeemer, Chicago
“As Christians, we are called to speak out against and live our lives in active opposition to oppression and denial of basic humanity. I am so thankful for Rev. Anthony for leading us on this journey so that we may share our stories and the stories of those who so touched us in hopes that we, as Americans, can do what needs to be done to end our country’s complacency in this conflict.”--Emily Simonson
Journey to the Holy land: 26 December 2014 - 8 January 2015
The Peace and Justice Committee and Episcopal Peace Fellowship traveled to the Holy Land in December 2014 to help us to better understand the complexities of the history and of the conflict between the Palestinian people and Israel. The group worked with a licensed tour guide from the Siraj Center for Holy Land Studies.
February 2014 El Salvador Trip
Members of the Diocese of Chicago Peace and Justice committee traveled to El Salvador in early February 2014 to participate in a voluntary election oversight effort for the February 2 presidential election. The National Observation Network was composed of more than 20 churches and civil society organizations encompassing more than 1,100 international and national observers. The partner organizations shared resources that allowed the network to conduct a systematic observation including reports and a statistical representation of total votes cast, a media campaign to inform the electorate and legal resources to make formal denouncements of any illegal activities.
Fraud, corruption and voter irregularity often have gone hand-in-hand with elections in Latin America, but observers and media described the February 2 elections as "tranquil" and "ordered." The day before the elections, observers, including the group from the Anglican Church of Canada and seven Episcopalians from the Diocese of Chicago, gathered at San Juan Evangelista, an Anglican-Episcopal Church in San Salvador that during the war served as a camp for internally displaced people. There, they learned about the country's electoral context, past and present, and their role as observers, with respect to the law, nonintervention, neutrality, objectivity and impartiality.
Participating as international observers in the February 2 presidential election was part of an exploration by the delegation from the Episcopal Diocese of Chicago of the various human rights-focused ministries of the Episcopal Anglican Diocese of El Salvador. While no plans for a formal companion relationship are being pursued by either diocese, an informal relationship between churches of the LaSalle County Episcopal Ministries in the Diocese of Chicago and a Salvadoran parish could grow to include other informal parish-to-parish ties as this mission delegation invites others to engage in mission and ministry in this Central American country. The Episcopal Diocese of Chicago has also endorsed a declaration by Salvadoran faith leaders including Bishop Martín Barahona that calls Christians of all faiths to support the continuation of a gang truce and the advancement of a peace process with street gangs. Advocating for this peace process is one of the 2014 focus areas of the Peace and Justice Committee.
THE 2014 S. MICHAEL YASUTAKE AWARD: The Rev. Rod Reinhart
The 2014 recipient of The S. Michael Yasutake Award was The Rev. Rod Reinhart, who received the award at the 177th Annual Convention of the Episcopal Diocese of Chicago in November.
The Rev. Rod Reinhart is rector of St. Clement’s Church in Harvey, and also serves as vicar of St. Joseph and St. Aidan’s Church in Blue Island. He has been a member of the Episcopal Diocese of Chicago since 2004, and in that time he has worked on a great many programs and projects in the realm of social justice. Rev. Reinhart's lifelong and consistent commitment to seeking justice extends beyond any single issue, from war and peace, to labor justice, to the full inclusion of LGBTQ persons in both church and society.
The Rev. Reinhart's own personal witness as an openly gay clergy person helped lead the way to an Episcopal Church both recognizes those called to ordained ministry regardless of gender or sexual orientation and solemnizes the relationships of couples without regard to the gender of their partners. Fr. Reinhart's witness also draws the focus of the church to the local injustices that mark our lives, the poverty, inequality, racism, and environmental degradation that mark this city and this state. May his witness encourage us all to greater commitment and action in response to the injustice that is right outside our door.
THE 2013 S. MICHAEL YASUTAKE AWARD: ANGELA SMITH
The 2013 recipient of The S. Michael Yasutake Award was Angela Smith, who received the award at the 176th Annual Convention of the Episcopal Diocese of Chicago in November. The award was introduced by Matthew Zaradich, chair of the Peace and Justice Committee, and was presented by Newland Smith, member of the committee.
Smith is a student of the United Nations affiliated University for Peace pursuing a Master's degree in Sustainable Peace in the Contemporary World and for the past eight years has been working for peace in Central America with a focus primarily on investment in women and girls.
In 2012, she co-founded a women's cooperative in partnership with the Episcopal Church in El Salvador where she also collaborates with mediators and faith leaders working to advance a peace process addressing gang violence. Two months ago, Angela returned to El Salvador to accompany Episcopal Bishop of El Salvador, Martín Barahona, to meet with actors engaged in this gang truce/peace process that is so critical to the future of El Salvador. In recognition of her work in El Salvador, Angela was one of forty people from twenty-seven nations accepted into this past June's Advanced Study of Nonviolent Conflict at Tufts University, Fletcher School.
S. Michael Yasutake Award: PRIOR RECIPIENTS
2012 – The Rev. Jacqueline Lynn
The Rev. Jackie Lynn is passionate about the teachings of Jesus and the baptismal covenant 'to strive for peace and justice among all people'. She is originally from Atlanta, GA, and moved to Chicago to engage in community organizing. She attended Maryville College in Tennessee with a year study in Sierra Leone, West Africa, and graduated from the University of Wisconsin. She has a master's degree in Planning and Public Policy from the University of Illinois at Chicago and is a trained facilitator, organizer, and mediator.
Jackie is the Ministries Associate at St. James Cathedral in Chicago. She serves on the Peace and Justice Committee and is a national board member of the Association of Episcopal Deacons. Jackie just completed 11 years as the Executive Director of Episcopal Peace Fellowship (EPF). EPF is a sixty-five year old organization with over 2000 members whose mission is to encourage Episcopalians to strive for peace and reconciliation among all people. Jackie has been an organizer all of her adult life and has worked in the urban communities of Atlanta, Nashville, and Chicago.
She gardens in the summer and cross country skis (when snow is available) with her life-partner Leslie Young. They have four adult children (Sara, Karl, Eliza and Matthew) and five grandchildren.