Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Will MegaChurches Squeeze Chatham Residents

Two weeks ago, the Chicago Public Schools approved a charter for Horizon Science Academy at 8522 S Lafayette. The school is reported to  have signed a lease that would pay an affiliate of  Fellowship  Missionary Baptist Church who's pastor is Charles Jenkins, $1.0 million in yearly rent.  Mr. Jenkins  is a trusted advisor to Mayor Rahm Emmanuel. Many believe that this figure is out of line compared to what other schools are paying for similar space. Many believe this is a diabolical covert way of publicly funding a church pastored by an ally of the mayor. The church with an estimated congregation of 6,000 is planning to relocate on adjacent land and build several buildings

  brookins and jenkins The Chatham community has a number of churches. There are churches of all denominations and faiths.  A number of these churches have dwindling congregations for a variety of reasons. Prior to the announcement, it was announced that to the east of Chatham in the 8th ward  at 1021 E 78th Street that Alderman Michelle Harris gave another megagchurch, New Life Covenant, several city owned lots so they could build their church complex. New Life Covenant has an estimated congregation of 6,000 members and is pastored by radio personality Mr. John Hannah.  While most would see a combined estimated $60-80 million in developments  as a positive to the respective communities, there comes some issues with these churches. Several years ago, Pastor and former State Senator James Meeks of Salem Baptist church started a crusade to close stores in Roseland  that sold liquor and tobacco that his church deemed "undesirable". He was successful in closing stores but the strip of Michigan Ave. between 100th-119th has not seen any businesses come in to take the place of those that are closed and until the recent opening of Walmart was left without a grocery store. In Chatham, along 79th street there are several liquor store and lounges. Most are law abiding, while one has become the target of community leaders to get closed and was closed for several months.  So the question in my mind is as a resident of Chatham who is of legal age, sound mind, taxpaying and law abiding citizen do I lose my right to purchase wine and spirits as a result of the church moving nearby and a bunch of people who come into the neighborhood one day for several hours feel that its not what they want? In west Chatham, the proposed Fellowship MBC development will end adjacent to the parking area of the new Studio Movie Grill-Chatham. SMG-Chatham is on track for renovations of its lobby and the renovations will place a small scale casual dining restaurant  that will include a bar. The theater itself has been at 210 W 87th for over 16 years but when the church moves in and disagrees with a particular movie or the serving of wine and spirits do I lose my chose as a legal age. law abiding, sound mind and tax paying citizen? While the churches may believe that they can provide alternatives I believe not. They are not going to be able to replace the 150 jobs at SMG-Chatham and the other jobs lost along 79th street. Also, will younger families want to move to a community that offers no entertainment venues? These are questions the Chatham community will have to answer. What do you think?    

1 comment:

  1. I agree it is very unsettling that a church will be funded by a charter school. Look at the fiasco that occurred when the "Alternative School" was housed by St. Clothilde and residents didn't have any say in that. All kinds of problems took place! It's doubtful that residents had any say or knew what was going down in Brookins' ward. He runs it like a potentate!

    Chatham has a lot of educators: retired, working–– and union. You know they can't be happy about this situation. So we can only hope that parents don't support it: there is no set proof that charter schools offer a better educational system than public schools. They just can't be thrown in the same category, and be compared to the substantial education your kids can get at a Catholic School.

    I also find it troubling that a mega church (in development) will be funded by this kind of "income money" that the charter school pays. There is no oversight, regulatory monitoring system in place–– like if the church received a grant––to negate any political agendas being perpetrated on the community because of political debts being repaid for charter school approval.

    As a private citizen, I like to have a cocktail or two, a glass of champagne, or beer on a hot day. Not to mention, entertain my friends on my patio in the summer. So if other churches jump on this bandwagon and believe me–-some are going to look at this as a fiscal resurrection opportunity since so many of our area churches have dwindling congregation populations–-this is scary.

    I believe most adults try to drink responsibly in the right setting: and it's up to our Alderman to put in check irresponsible liquor stores and bars if he is doing his job right! Prohibition has been put to bed decades ago!

    As for the new movie theater, again as a private citizen, given the "hot-head" element that is prevailing among our youth; the new conceal and carry law going into effect, well, I am worried about cocktails being drunk while watching a movie.

    If the new owners are really going to put into place the type of security that the ICON theater in the South Loop has, where I have personally seen 5, armed security guards in place on the second floor where the bar is, maybe, just maybe, I could be more open-minded.

    But for now that seems like a disaster in waiting. I pray that some of the criminal element, or nut cases like the guy, who shot the young man texting, at a movie theater recently, won't prevail.

    If any of those things prevails, then we will likely have a community that will withdraw all support from the theater. At that point, the community won't have any type of entertainment because the theater will die from lack of patrons.


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