Father Pfleger at Arlington Heights church: Get off the sidelines and help

 
 
Posted10/19/2018 5:30 AM
hello
  • "We need folks like Jesus who will stand up ... and change the game," the Rev. Michael Pfleger said at First United Methodist Church in Arlington Heights on Thursday night.

      "We need folks like Jesus who will stand up ... and change the game," the Rev. Michael Pfleger said at First United Methodist Church in Arlington Heights on Thursday night. Patrick Kunzer | Staff Photographer

  • The Rev. Michael Pfleger said Thursday at First United Methodist Church in Arlington Heights suburbanites need to actually go into the city of Chicago to get to know people and help.

      The Rev. Michael Pfleger said Thursday at First United Methodist Church in Arlington Heights suburbanites need to actually go into the city of Chicago to get to know people and help. Patrick Kunzer | Staff Photographer

  • "People who are struggling to live on the South Side of Chicago think the people of the Northwest suburbs don't care about them at all," the Rev. Michael Pfleger said at First United Methodist Church in Arlington Heights on Thursday night.

      "People who are struggling to live on the South Side of Chicago think the people of the Northwest suburbs don't care about them at all," the Rev. Michael Pfleger said at First United Methodist Church in Arlington Heights on Thursday night. Patrick Kunzer | Staff Photographer

  • The Rev. Clyde Brooks listens Thursday to The Rev. Michael Pfleger's message at First United Methodist Church in Arlington Heights.

      The Rev. Clyde Brooks listens Thursday to The Rev. Michael Pfleger's message at First United Methodist Church in Arlington Heights. Patrick Kunzer | Staff Photographer

  • Audience members listen as the Rev. Michael Pfleger of Chicago encourages them to get more active in solving the world's problems.

      Audience members listen as the Rev. Michael Pfleger of Chicago encourages them to get more active in solving the world's problems. Patrick Kunzer | Staff Photographer

  • The Rev. Clyde Brooks introduces The Rev. Michael Pfleger on Thursday at First United Methodist Church in Arlington Heights.

      The Rev. Clyde Brooks introduces The Rev. Michael Pfleger on Thursday at First United Methodist Church in Arlington Heights. Patrick Kunzer | Staff Photographer

  • Audience members at First United Methodist Church in Arlington Heights were implored by the Rev. Michael Pfleger to speak up about society's problems and get involved in solving them.

      Audience members at First United Methodist Church in Arlington Heights were implored by the Rev. Michael Pfleger to speak up about society's problems and get involved in solving them. Patrick Kunzer | Staff Photographer

  • The Rev. Michael Pfleger said at First United Methodist Church in Arlington Heights on Thursday night that many believers and the clergy have "spiritual laryngitis" and are afraid to discuss politics or anything controversial.

      The Rev. Michael Pfleger said at First United Methodist Church in Arlington Heights on Thursday night that many believers and the clergy have "spiritual laryngitis" and are afraid to discuss politics or anything controversial. Patrick Kunzer | Staff Photographer

Activist Chicago priest Michael Pfleger came to the Northwest suburbs Thursday to move people of faith to act beyond their pews and speak up in a world that he says "seems like it's lost its conscience."

"We're standing at the foot of the cross watching. That's what's happening sometimes today in faith communities of America," said Pfleger, senior pastor of St. Sabina Catholic Church in Chicago, who addressed a crowd of about 200 at First United Methodist Church in Arlington Heights. "We are finding ourselves too often watching death, racism, sexism and injustice taking place before our eyes and shaking our heads, and many times running to the synagogue, mosque or church simply praying."

But Pfleger argued those buildings are meant to be like a huddle of football players -- places to get guidelines from the coach. He said many believers and the clergy instead have "spiritual laryngitis" and are afraid to discuss politics or anything controversial.

"We need folks like Jesus who will stand up and interrupt business as usual and change the game," he said.

Pfleger, wearing a "Demand Justice" sweatshirt over his shirt and collar, spoke for more than an hour in an unscripted and impassioned sermon at the invitation of the Rev. Clyde Brooks, chairman of the Illinois Commission on Diversity and Human Relations.

Pfleger told audience members, many from suburban congregations, that he wasn't there to make them feel good but to make them feel "uncomfortable."

Pfleger, who came to St. Sabina in 1981, admitted that speaking up for his beliefs has been costly, with some family and friends disowning him.

But, he told the crowd, "if you're going to be faithful to God, you have to grow beyond wanting to be liked."

Much of the 69-year-old priest's ministry is within the city limits, but he periodically comes to the suburbs to talk about his activism, most recently in March at Holy Family Catholic Community in Inverness.

On Thursday night, he argued that suburbanites should care about the violence on the South and West Side of Chicago, and encouraged congregations to pair up with churches in the city not only with donations but to go there and "get to know each other."

"People who are struggling to live on the South Side of Chicago think the people of the Northwest suburbs don't care about them at all," Pfleger said.

"That's sad, and I know you do, but there has to be some sort of connection."

Article Comments ()
Guidelines: Keep it civil and on topic; no profanity, vulgarity, slurs or personal attacks. People who harass others or joke about tragedies will be blocked. If a comment violates these standards or our terms of service, click the X in the upper right corner of the comment box. To find our more, read our FAQ.