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CHICAGO – When Pastor Corey Brooks went to the rooftop on that cold November night to begin his 100-day vigil against the unacceptable violence and poverty on the South Side of Chicago, the solitary act forced many Americans to look within themselves, consciously or unconsciously. For years, Americans lectured from the comforts of their homes that the War on Poverty, welfare, man-in-the-house rules and culture were to blame. They are not wrong. Yet these complaints achieved little other than the self-flattery of their intelligence. Then the pastor went onto the roof, an act that essentially called out the rest of us. Do we continue with complaints and do nothing, or do we look within and come alongside the pastor in faith and goodwill to help him through these uncharted waters?
Paul Glyman decided to come alongside the pastor. Glyman serves as a pastor himself at the West Hills Community Church in the Chicago suburb of Westmont. He certainly did not have to journey to the South Side for the pastor’s 55th day of his rooftop vigil, but he did, and the pastor was deeply appreciative.
“Paul, when we talk about unity and we talk about getting rid of the violence and the poverty in Chicago, how do you see that becoming a part of the whole scenario?” the pastor asked.
“I think for us as the church, the Bible tells us, we’re the body of Christ,” Glyman said. “It doesn’t say we have to try to be. It doesn’t say that we should be. It says that we are and that Christ is the head.”
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“Yes,” the pastor.
“I appreciate what you’re doing down here, and that’s why I came down,” Glyman said. “I wanted to be a part of it, but I needed someone to kind of show me how we can do something in a positive way.”
He was not much different from folks across America who were unsure of how to take the first step but still managed to put that foot forward to join the pastor on his journey. They may not know the way or the solutions, but they have chosen to learn by opening their hearts and minds to the good deeds that the pastor has done for his community in the last 20 years.
“We’re not working together. So it’s a challenge I’m giving our church that this year … just say, ‘Man, I’m going to listen to the head, I’m going to listen to Jesus, and I’m going to go with the rest of the body,'” Glyman said. “I think that we can accomplish so much more together than we can just by ourselves.”
Brooks said: “I think one of the things that we see in America is a great divide, and one of the reasons why we’re not accomplishing as much as we probably could accomplish is because we are such a divided nation, and people are so divided.”
“We’re Black and White and Christians and non-Christians and Republicans and Democrats, but there comes a time when there have to be some causes where we have to be unified, and that’s the reason why I think violence is something that we could all come to the rescue for,” the pastor continued.
In this era of ever-deepening tribalism, it baffles the pastor that many Americans continue to place a higher value on labels over getting into the trenches to deal with life’s most difficult problems.
“Why would you come all the way from the suburbs to the South Side of Chicago on top of this rooftop?” the pastor asked.
“Chicago is my home,” Glyman replied. “Chicago is such a beautiful city. But it does have a reputation for violence. Which one is it? Is it the beautiful city or the violent city? It’s both.”
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“I preached a message a couple weeks ago about this guy that went up in these weather balloons in a lawn chair because he said, ‘I just couldn’t sit there,’” he continued. “I think that if more people would just say, ‘I just couldn’t sit there, I got to do something.’”
“Right,” agreed the pastor. “I think if we as pastors can work together more often and somehow figure out ways to get our churches to work together more often, there’s so much that we can accomplish to help the world.”
Glyman could not help but be inspired by the pastor’s open arms. He promised to return to his church with the lessons and stories that he learned from his time on the roof. For him, the message of “the body of Christ” overrides tribalism. After all, tribalism — religious, secular and racial — dehumanizes and prevents progress while individuals stepping forward together into the unknown creates bridges as well as that good faith that is needed to solve the most enduring of America’s problems.
Follow along as Fox News checks in Pastor Corey Brooks each day with a new Rooftop Revelation.
For more information, please visit Project H.O.O.D.
Eli Steele is a documentary filmmaker and writer. His latest film is “What Killed Michael Brown?” Twitter: @Hebro_Steele.
Camera by Terrell Allen.