DuPage County religious leaders held an assembly at a Naperville mosque Thursday night to draw attention to their efforts to build ties with Muslims and to counter the divisive rhetoric of the presidential campaign.
The standing-room-only crowd packed a gym at the Islamic Center of Naperville for a 90-minute, wide-ranging reflection on the work of DuPage United.
The nonprofit group represents more than 25 area churches, mosques, temples, teachers unions and other organizations.
The Rev. Jim Honig, senior pastor of Faith Lutheran Church in Glen Ellyn, acknowledged some in the gathering may have reacted to the election of Donald Trump with "disbelief, despondency and even despair," while others may be relieved or celebrating last week's results.
"While the campaign has focused on what divides us, we know that there are more fundamental things that unite us," Honig said.
DuPage United sent a message of solidarity in a campaign that launched last February with a "Get to Know Your Muslim Neighbor" event that drew about 800 people.
Nearly a dozen mosques later opened their doors, welcoming more than 3,000 Muslims and non-Muslims to learn more about Islam.
"We are continuing to get to know our neighbors and to fight for equal freedom and justice for all, especially those who are the most vulnerable," said the Rev. Joe Yucha, a member of the campaign's planning team.
With that in mind, DuPage United is now calling on mental health care providers to help develop a proposal for the county's first crisis intervention center as an alternative to hospital emergency rooms or jail. DuPage United has hosted a series of listening sessions with law enforcement and mental health experts about the issue.
Renee Hyzy denounced the "missing resources" in the county that forced her family to seek treatment for her son at such a facility in Rockford "just to find an open bed at the right time that could take him immediately."
He is living in a sober house in Roscoe Village and works and pays his own rent after "exhausting rounds of recovery and relapse" in his heroin addiction, she said.
"It didn't have to be this way for my family, and it doesn't need to happen for other families in our county, either," she said.
The Rev. Mike Solberg, pastor of the Union Church of Hinsdale, also praised area police for taking a 40-hour course to receive crisis intervention training for mental health emergencies.
"CIT training helps to de-escalate those situations and keeps people out of jail and out of the emergency departments because you can't get well in jail," Solberg said.