Anti-Violence Task Force

The Hyde Park & Kenwood Interfaith Council has recently formed an Anti-Violence Task Force under the Chairperson, Rev. Veronica Johnson. If you are interested in joining this initiative, please reach out to us at

**Read the full public statement below**

January 17, 2022
Dear Fellow Chicagoans,

The Hyde Park and Kenwood Interfaith Council announces the forming of an Anti-Violence Task Force, comprised of members of multiple faiths and faith communities within the Hyde Park and Kenwood communities of Chicago, and associated organizations, to join movements throughout Chicago to address the violence across this city. We seek to address violence by offering leadership, resources, our voices and our perspectives, all shaped by various faith traditions which have a common commitment to the well-being and flourishing of all human beings.

On this day, known as the King Holiday, as we honor the life and legacy of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., we lift these words from his “Letter from Birmingham Jail,” dated, April 16, 1963:

Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly. Never again can we afford to live with the narrow, provincial “outside agitator” idea. Anyone who lives inside the United States can never be considered an outsider anywhere within its bounds.

Many of the faith leaders of Hyde Park and Kenwood currently participate in Chicago-area initiatives to address violence. Regardless of the location of the violence, we have committed time, resources, ideas, and our physical presence when called upon to act. Engaging this work is not new to many of us.

Since the pandemic, the Hyde Park and Kenwood communities have experienced a dramatic rise in violent crime, according to statistics from the “City of Chicago Data Portal.” We, as faith leaders, feel strongly about the need for a response from the faith community: a response that will seek to address root causes, and that will allow us to use our voices and resources to bring about the changes needed to literally “Stop the Violence.” We believe that, with proper action, this is indeed possible.

The Hyde Park and Kenwood Interfaith Council is a body that has existed for 111 years, for such a time as this! We are already a collaborative of leaders and communities of faith, who are committed to addressing the needs of humankind. Read our Mission Statement on our website at The Anti-Violence Task Force we have now organized will function in four primary areas:

  1. Education: Providing education to the community regarding the causes of the violence and related topics including: historical oppression and racism, income inequality, trauma, gang activity, evidence-based models of violence prevention, etc.
  2. Service: Addressing root causes of violence; offering trauma-informed care to those at high risk for violent behavior, and for community members traumatized by violence.
  3. Outreach: Engaging the University of Chicago (including the Office of Community Engagement), the local Chamber of Commerce, local seminaries, public officials, and other resources and networks within Hyde Park/Kenwood; tapping the multitude of resources in our communities to solve deeply rooted problems in Chicago, particularly those that lead to violence.
  4. Advocacy: Partnering with the broader faith community of Chicago and related initiatives to seek, demand, and allocate resources, especially for surrounding communities in need of more resources, with the goal of helping those at high risk for violence (i.e., to prevent a life of violence).

Please watch our website for more information We will keep it updated with news about the work of the task force. We will also provide information through various sources throughout our communities, including through the various houses of worship and organizations listed as signatories of this letter.

As we continue to organize, we understand that the work to end violence in Chicago is a marathon and not a sprint. We seek to build a team that will commit their time, energy and network to this work. We will hold meetings and events, as well as seek input and resources, so that interested community members can play a role, as well. We welcome your input and participation. This is the spirit of Dr. King. We are indeed “caught in an inescapable network of mutuality…” In other words, we are all in this together and together we will stand stronger!

If you are interested in joining this work, please email us at

Faith Leaders of Hyde Park and Kenwood Communities and Associated/Partner Organizations

Saba Ayman-Nolley, Ph.D. Baha’i Representative Current President of HPKIFC

Rev. Veronica M. Johnson CoPastor
Hyde Park Union Church Outreach Director
Faith in Place

Fr. Michael Trail
St. Thomas the Apostle Catholic Church

Rev. Nancy Goede
Senior Pastor
Augustana Lutheran Church of Hyde Park &
Lutheran Campus Ministry

Rev. Sarah Lusche, MSW CoPastor
Hyde Park Union Church

Rev. Julian DeShazier Pastor
University Church

David Crawford President
McCormick Theological Seminary

Sr. Barbara E. Reid, O.P., Ph.D. President & Carroll Stuhlmueller, C.P. Distinguished Professor of New Testament Studies
Catholic Theological Union

Sara Trumm
Director of A Center of Christian-Muslim Engagement for Peace and Justice Lutheran School of Theology

Rev. Jonathan Friesen Senior Pastor
Ellis Avenue Church

Ingrid Wallace
CEO, Ingrid Wallace Presents Moderator, Hyde Park Union Church

UChicago Buddhist Association

Rabbi Frederick Reeves KAM Isaiah Israel HPKIFC Past President

Rabbi David Minkus Congregation Rodfei Zedek

Rabbi Laurence Edwards Member, Congregation Rodfei Zedek

Rev. David W. Watkins, III Senior Pastor
Greater Bethesda MB Church

Antonio Davis
Founder and Executive Director of Paving The Way Project, Inc Greater Bethesda MB Church

Rev. Catherine Healy Church of St. Paul & the Redeemer

Rev. Donald Cameron First Unitarian Church

Fr. Philip Maikkula Priest in Charge
St. Makarios the Great Orthodox Mission

Rev. Brian Sauder Executive Director Faith in Place

Rev Alice Harper-Jones Associate Pastor
Kenwood United Church of Christ

Rev. Charlene Hill
United Church of Hyde Park

Rev. Charing Wei-Jen Chen Minister of Media
United Church of Hyde Park

Barbara Maloof
Director, Community Outreach Church of Jesus Christ, Latter Day Saints, Hyde Park

Hyde Park Refugee Project Founding Director Dorothy Pytel Co-Director Lisa Jenschke Co-Director Anna Zonderman, LSCW,MPH
Co-Director Kathleen Ray
HPKIFC Anti-Violence Task Force meets every 2 weeks on Tuesday at 5 pm central time.