Urban Dolorosa

Our anti-violence work began in 1993, following the shooting death of a Kenwood Academy student, with monthly candlelight vigils at 35th and State Streets in a campaign to raise awareness about violence. The vigils ended in 1999 with the tear down of high-rise public housing on State Street.

Our Banner
In 2009, after the death of Derrion Albert, we revived the vigils with an emphasis on violence against youth. On our front lawn, we also began tracking the names of children killed by violence. Between September 2008 and August 2012, 330 children and youth (18 years and younger) have been killed.

Beginning with the 2011-2012 school year, we are now recording the names of any child or young person (26 years and younger) killed in senseless violence. Over 300 young people were killed last year. Our purpose is to dignify these young people and to call our city to recognize that the death of one youth diminishes us all.

Urban Dolorosa – “The Sorrowing City”
In 2010, we began organizing clergy and faith communities to address this issue and to invest in our city’s youth. We held training sessions for religious leaders and organized Peace Tables to bring clergy and youth together. We also began organizing a series of multicultural and multimedia memorial concerts that were performed in November 2011 with original sacred music composed by our then Interim Music Director Fr. Vaughn Fayle (OFM) and a libretto written by our Senior Pastor Rev. Susan Johnson. The concerts included youth performances, choral music, documentary photography, and spoken word poetry. Read more about the concerts and media coverage.

Chicago’s Citizens for Change & Chicago Survivors
In 2012, we began partnering with Chicago’s Citizens for Change (CCC), a nonprofit committed to preventing violence through compassionate response. Pastor Susan provides executive leadership for CCC, and several of our members are involved in CCC’s new effort – called Chicago Survivors – to facilitate support for family members of loved ones killed in violence. This will include the development of an internet database and network of available services, a 24-hour telephone hotline, and trained crisis team volunteers to work with families and youth traumatized by senseless violence.

Read More
Rev. Susan B. W. Johnson, “Urban Dolorosa”
Rev. Dr. Joel Harter, “Healing Our Vision in the Sorrowing City”