Tuesday, May 19, 2009

North Lawndale Churches: More Harm Than Good?

There was a challenging article in the Sunday Chicago Tribune about the proliferation of churches in North Lawndale. I thought the article was kind of on target. As the community experienced disinvestment in the 60's, businesses moved out and storefront churches moved in, often side by side in the heart of the neighborhood's business district. If businesses are going to be brought back into the community, it makes sense to me that the churches should be given incentives to move off the business strip and into the residential communities. Tax revenue from thriving businesses would do a lot to turn the community around.

The article also mentioned concern from some community leaders and even some pastors that the churches aren't doing enough to heal the community's ills.

What is disheartening to me is the raw anger expressed in some of the 95 comments that have been left on the site. Here's what one commenter had to say...
Wow. I live in this ward. From many years of Neglect, I must say that it's depressing. We have almost "200" Churches in our ward and at least 90% of them are Powerless beyond their own front Door. It's depressing that many of these churches are constantly getting Grants, Tax- exempt Status without giving back to their community. How can you have this many churches and still have a ward that has to be almost one of the worst to live in? It's Deprived, Depressed and our entire make-up are Second Class Grocery Stores that hike Prices because most of their make-up are due to Link Aide, Mounds of Liquor Stores who's bottles are picked up by residents DAILY (Yea even the liquor stores have no respect for the community that they do business in. Mostly "Dollar General Stores" ... Forget Coffee Shops, Dry Cleaners, places to sit and eat. Those don't exist here but hey How about ALL OF THOSE CHURCHES
Another wrote:
One would think that a community that has received the attention of so many "men of the cloth" would have no need of a police force.
I'm thankful for Lawndale Community Church. They are on the Ogden Avenue strip too, but they have Hope House for recovering addicts, a thriving Community Health Center with 241,000 annual visits, and a Christian Development Corporation which has generated over $14 million of investment in the Lawndale community. They are being the true Church in Lawndale.

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