By Dylan Deprey
When driving down the streets of Milwaukee “the Church” can take many forms.
On the corner of one block it could be a traditional steeple style building displaying a wooden cross.
The next block another church is practicing their religion in what used to be an old storefront. Whether it is Baptist, Catholic, Lutheran, Presbyterian, etc., the church is doing work throughout its community. Even with all the churches working non-stop, neighborhoods always seem to see violent spikes during the summer.
As part of the Milwaukee Common Council’s multifaceted plan on improving public safety introduced in late May, the All Things in Common initiative will provide assistance to 25 churches scattered throughout the city as community resource hubs. This was announced during a press conference Wed. Aug. 10.
“One of the reasons why this is important is because many of these churches already have relationships in the communities they are serving right now,” said Common Council President Ashanti Hamilton.
Hamilton noted that instead of trying to start at square one, the Common Council’s plan would utilize the churches’ preexisting infrastructure they have built within their communities over the years. He also added that by “plugging” directly into preexisting relationships in the community, it would create a bigger and faster impact.
“We should recognize that we should be acting in a state of emergency,” Hamilton said.
These Community resource hubs will provide services like group-based mentoring as well as referring people to available city services. They will also assist in connecting people to driver’s license recovery programs, child support mediation as well as other services.
Newly elected Alderwoman Chantia Lewis took charge on the project. She said that since the announcement of the multipronged public safety plan she has been working and collaborating with sponsors.
“We didn’t want to throw something at the wall and hope it stuck, we wanted to make sure that once we rolled this out it was going to be successful and sustainable,” Ald. Lewis said.
While this piece of the plan deals with reconnecting neighborhoods through the faith-based community, others include the 500 Father’s initiatives. This project asks fathers from around the city were to band together to help their community. Other tiers of strategy included meeting with local and state entities including the MPD and Milwaukee County Sheriff’s Dept.
Ald. Lewis said that her biggest asset in finding churches to join the cause was her own pastor, Pastor Robert Randolph. Pastor Randolph is the senior pastor at the Kingdom of Faith Fellowship Church.
“All you have to do is turn on your television screen and you will see that there are so many issues we are facing not as Blacks or whites, or Hindus and Muslims, but as a group,” Randolph said.
Standing behind him were 25 pastors who had also signed on with the initiative. He said that rather then trying to “reinvent the wheel,” he asked what the city could do to aid in the work congregations were already doing across Milwaukee.
“I think what this does is that it creates a dynamic partnership to really get things done,” Randolph said.
Pastor Randolph also added that it was very likely more churches will join the initiative.
In celebration to kick-off the All Things in Common initiative there will be a citywide block party hosted by the 25 faith-based community resource hubs on Aug. 27. There will be opportunities to win free gas, groceries and bus passes.
“We are so grateful for and impressed by the number of institutions that have come forward and volunteered to serve as resource hubs,” Ald. Lewis said. “This initiative is already proving its value as a positive force for change in Milwaukee.”