Quinn speaks about youth at Alsip church
By Steve Metsch firstname.lastname@example.org July 14, 2013 6:36PM
Updated: August 16, 2013 6:35AM
Gov. Pat Quinn spent Sunday morning listening to choirs and preaching his gospel against gun violence, especially that which targets the young.
Quinn was the front-row guest of honor at The Lighthouse Church of All Nations, 4501 W. 127th St., Alsip.
Like most Sundays there, the 10 a,m. service was packed, said the Rev. Dan Willis, who founded the church 35 years ago. Quinn is the first elected official he’s invited to speak at the church.
The pastor was impressed that Quinn, a few nights earlier, had visited Advocate Children’s Hospital in Oak Lawn with Jaden Donald, the 5-year-old boy injured by stray gunfire on the Fourth of July. His family is in the congregation of the church, which has 4,000 members.
“That touched my heart so much,” Willis said.
While addressing the congregation at the service, Quinn said “all of us in the community of faith are praying for Jaden.”
“He was shot. Shot by a gun. Gun violence,” Quinn said.
Quinn stayed to hear four songs performed by Chozen, the church’s youth choir, which leaves Wednesday for a performing tour of Dublin, Ireland.
“Through this wonderful church we are sending this wonderful choir to another nation to speak out for the people of Illinois. You are our ambassadors, you are the voice of faith. We will endure,” Quinn said to the cheering crowd.
Before he left, Quinn briefly talked about youth.
“One of the things you just saw is how to engage young people. They have positive things to do and get involved in and work with others. This is a good gang right here, the Chozen,” Quinn said. “You can see the joy and the life and the energy and the enthusiasm.”
“I think it’s very important, from birth on, that we have not only early childhood education, but after-school programs for young people so they can see, as the pastor said, there’s a big world outside the street corner and we don’t want them to go back to a street corner with the gangs. Breaking that cycle of the gangs is imperative to public safety,” Quinn said.
Quinn said his visit with Jaden and the boy’s family was inspirational.
“It was powerful emotionally. You hear a lot about heroes. Jaden Donald is my hero. He’s a great young man with faith and courage. Very inspirational.” Quinn said.
“He was a victim of violence. That’s a message to all of us that we need to redouble our efforts to end the silence about the violence,” Quinn said.
Discussing the state lawmakers who overrode his veto of the concealed-cary bill, Quinn said some provision must be made to not allow firearms inside any place with a liquor licenses.
“That’s a prescription for tragedy,” Quinn said.
Willis said he plans to post signs in the church that read “no weapons allowed.”
Tamanika Hurdle, an adult cousin of Jaden, said she liked Quinn’s message, adding that change is possible through prayer.
Willis said Quinn “came to our tribute to Jaden out of pure concern for the youth of Chicago.”
“We can knock this thing if people recognize that we need to get back to basics. This country was founded upon ‘In God we trust.’ If we can teach the next generation respect, then we can knock this thing. I refuse to be hopeless,” Willis said.