West Side churches kick off program to prevent violence

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In an effort to combat the increased violence that has put Chicago in the national spotlight, 10 churches and pastors are offering a new initiative to train children to deter such aggression.

Greater St. John Bible Church’s Pastor Ira Acree has united the West Side churches to offer conflict resolution, leadership training, academic support, career development and financial literacy for the area’s youth.

“The senseless violence has destroyed the lives and dreams of our youth for far too long. The Austin DreamMakers is just one of several strategic solutions we’ll be rolling out in the next several months,” Acree said in a press release.

The program kicks off March 9 at 1 p.m. at the Mars Hill Baptist Church.

“Our church is honored to be a part of this collaborative initiative that will change and impact lives,” Rev. Clarence Stowers, pastor at Mars Hill, said in a written statement.

Pastor Acree’s son was robbed at gunpoint in his neighborhood, prompting Acree to create the program.

“We cannot afford to wait on the governor, the mayor, the police chief or anybody else to figure it out. It’s time for the church to stand up and take its rightful place in dealing with this problem,” Acree said.

Churches & Ministers involved in the program:

Pastor Steve Epting, Hope Community Church

Pastor Ira Acree, Greater St John Bible Church

Pastor Robbie Wilkerson, New Birth Christian Center

Pastor Reginald Bachus, Friendship Baptist Church

Pastor John Collins, Great True Vine Baptist Church

Pastor Cleophus Lee, Original Providence

Pastor Martin, Trinity Baptist Church

Pastor Clarence Stowers, Mars Hill Baptist Church

Pastor Matthew Miller, Rising Sun Baptist Church

Pastor Terence Keys, St. Rest Baptist Church


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