‘How can we be of assistance’: South Side pastor connects with north suburban community after mass shooting

CHICAGO (CBS) – Trauma and heartache are bonds that no one wants to share.

But the recent gun violence in Highland Park is bringing together two communities closer. Ones that are now leaning on each other more than ever.

CBS 2’s Steven Graves explains.

Taking on the effects of gun violence is common and just about weekly here at Bright Star Church in Chicago’s Bronzeville neighborhood.

And a connection between faith leaders on the South Side all the way up to the North Side is providing solace in an unexpected time of need.

Pastor Chris Harris sits at the ready. Anxious to help Highland Park residents, days after a shooter from their community murdered seven at random.

“When we needed the friends on the North Shore, they came. And now they need us. We’re going to return the favor. Because now they’ve been touched by what we live every single day,” Harris said.

Pastor Harris is and has been working with about 12 rabbis and synagogues on the North Shore for years. Many helped him amplify voices during George Floyd protests and pleas for COVID resources.

This joint, gun violence prevention die-in happened recently.

“And the planning is in phase now. It starts with communication. And we’re figuring out what we should do, where are we needed and how we can be of assistance,” Harris said.

Aside from helping other faith leaders talk to parishioners about gun violence trauma, Pastor Harris sent out a notice to Highland Park about this trauma helpline for Chicago.

“Because, ironically, some folks on the South Side of Chicago now have the support system you now need. That’s what it’s all about,” Harris said.

He got the idea for that helpline after traveling to a trauma counseling center in Israel back in 2012. Since bringing the model to Chicago, he said it has reached more than 50,000 people. And each tragedy is more proof will continue to need it, made possible through partnership and support.

“I hope it just won’t be a one-time thing because this problem probably won’t be going away anytime soon,” Harris lamented.

That trauma help line is 833-TURN-123.

And it is open Monday through Friday from 9:00 am to 6:00 pm.

Posted by Bright Star Church on Monday, July 4, 2022

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