EDITOR’S NOTE: Phil Jackson, longtime friend and Board member of RLC, wrote today’s piece to give us an insight into some of his work with youth in Chicago. Phil has been a pastor at Lawndale Community Church for years, and heads up the Firehouse Community Arts Center.
“Yo, pastor Phil I am tired of this life, I don’t want to live like this anymore.”
Mike said this to me on a Monday morning right after he was in a gunfight the night before with a rival Mob. Mike had been connected with us for the last five weeks working with us on our mural arts board up summer project. We hired 30 students over the summer to paint murals on wood that we would put over abandon buildings to create our own arts corridors in the hood. Mike was with us that whole summer and experienced something he had never known: the reality of who he could be in a safe and creative space. The Firehouse Community Art Center is a place where students ages 12-25 have permission within the arts to live out who they truly can be. This permission is needed because options are limited – poor folk have poor options, and thus have limited options to expand what life is and can be. This causes hopelessness and resiliency to flourish.
Our desire at The Firehouse Community Art Center is to create a space to “Spark New Flames One Kid at A Time!” Whereas firemen run into burning homes to stop the fire, it is our objective to run into the lives of our students to spark fires and over time build youth who are living hopeful and resilient lives. Our vision is to change the world through the life of youth and young adults in a faith community through the arts. We do this through dance, tech, visual arts, culinary and audio engineering with 120 youth a week during the school year and 550 a week in the summer.
The below video was done by the Forum for Theological Exploration (FTE) because of our fit with their campaign Doing Ministry Differently. They are seeking to teach new ministry leaders the many facets of ministry.