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. We are focus on peace in Israel and Palestine, how we can invite the diocese to respond to racism, and participate in Chicago's annual LGBT Pride Parade. We welcome new members to help guide our work 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 Judith Tribbett by email.
In addition to meetings, the Peace and Justice Committee offers congregations and small groups the following suggestions and resources:
- 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? 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). Contact Jackie Lynn 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.
2018 Yasutake Award Recipient: Wanda Norris
The Diocese of Chicago Peace and Justice Committee was honored to name Ms. Wanda Norris as the 2018 Rev. Michael Yasutake Peace and Justice Awardee. Ms. Norris is the Supervisor of Shedd Park in the South Lawndale community and the Youth Minister of St. Thomas Episcopal Church. Norris has served as Youth Minister for more than 12 years and has worked extensively within various ministries of St. Thomas.
Highlights of her work in 2017 and 2018 were initiating the Mobile Ministry in Bronzeville and North Lawndale communities; participating in the "Our Lives Matter" public action; partnering with MEDS Senior Homes to foster inter-generational relationships between seniors and youth; partnering with CPS elementary schools to train students on School to Prison Pipeline; hosting the Youth Ministry All Saints Feed the Homeless event in the East Garfield Community; partnering with O.K.O.R. (Our Kids Or Responsibility) Youth Foundation to lend support to children in the North Lawndale and Little Village neighborhoods; attending the All Our Children national conference on education equity; and conducting direct outreach through events including Youth Explosion, a Juneteenth Freedom Party and a Vacation Bible School at Trinity Episcopal Church under new leadership.
Norris is a certified RISE Trainer (A Rite of Passage for Young People), working to counter the effects of School to prison pipeline.
2017 - The Rev. Dr. Robert Cotton Fite (awarded posthumously at the 2017 Diocesan Convention by the Very Rev. Joy Rogers)
The Rev. Dr. Robert Cotton Fite (Cotton) was a beloved Episcopal priest, clinical psychologist and peace activist, who died in August of 2017. At the time of his death, Fite was Priest Associate at St. Luke's Episcopal Church in Evanston, IL, where he had been serving for almost 40 years. He was also serving his eighth year as board chair of Seraj Library Project, an organization created to build children's libraries in rural Palestinian villages. During his tenure at Seraj, he was gratified to watch these libraries become vibrant centers of refuge and community renewal.
2016 - 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 Rev. John David van Dooren, former 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 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."
2015 - 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.
2014 - 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 was rector of St. Clement’s Church in Harvey, and also served as vicar of St. Joseph and St. Aidan’s Church in Blue Island. He was member of the Episcopal Diocese of Chicago since 2004, and in that time he 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. The Rev. Reinhart died in November of 2015.
2013 - 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.
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.