Rev. Andre Fluker is a man who’s moving with purpose. As pastor of All Nations Church of God in Christ at 16th and Pulaski, Rev. Fluker’s exposure to the community’s problems with drugs, violence, and troubled youth has been first hand. With over 20 years of ministry under his belt, he has decided to do something different to address these problems. During the warmer months, on every 2nd Sunday afternoon, Rev. Fluker and the members of All Nations Church deploy to the corners of the block the church occupies to pray for the safety and peace of the community. Recently, that mission of prayer and outreach was expanded in a major way as Rev. Fluker stepped up to help lead the West Side ‘Prayer Around the Schools’ prayer vigil and community campaign.
Prayer Around the Schools was launched on the South side by Pastor Chris Harris of Bright Star Church in Bronzeville in 2003. It was started as a response to the violence, drug activity, and high drop-out rates in the Black community. Having worked with Pastor Harris on the Southside, Rev. Fluker has brought the Prayer Around the Schools movement to the Westside so that prayer can take place and conditions in the community will change.
The first steps toward launching Prayer Around the Schools on the Westside were taken earlier this year. Rev. Fluker, along with the pastors from the other congregations, hosted an event called ‘A Night With the King’, which was a pep rally on Friday January 6th at 10pm. Attendees received information about the Prayer Around the Schools movement, heard inspiring messages, got their marching orders for the next day, and even had the chance to put their passion to action before going home. During the pep rally, a fight broke out right up the street from Harmony church where the rally was being held. The pep rally moved from indoors to outdoors and marched to the area where the fight had been offering prayers for the safety and peace of the community. ‘After we returned from praying after the fight, five young men came into the church to ask for special prayer’, Rev. Fluker said.
The next day, Saturday Jan. 7th, the first North Lawndale ‘Prayer Around the Schools’ vigil was held outside William Penn Elementary at 1616 S. Avers. Participants are asked to pray for very particular needs in the community including: Equal education funding, elimination of gang violence and recruitment, protection of our children from pedophiles, promotion of abstinence among students to reduce teen pregnancy and STD’s, the cessation of drug and alcohol abuse in and around the schools, an increase in the graduation rate of minority males, and stronger parent involvement, and much more. In addition to offering prayers, people at the vigil release two sets of balloons. First they release white balloons to honor the memory of the young people who’ve died as result of violence in our community. Second, red balloons are released to highlight the fact that the community is being covered by the blood of Jesus Christ.
Rev. Fluker, along with other church leaders including Pastor Anthony Spencer, Pastor Robin Hood, Pastor James Brooks, and Pastor David Pope, parishioners, and citizens from the community are continuing to gather at William Penn school at 1616 S. Avers to hold the Prayer Around the Schools campaign on the West Side. Although the Prayer Around the Schools campaign is being led by pastors, Rev. Fluker insists that it’s not a church only initiative. ‘What we need people to understand is that there is no community without unity and no unity without U. This isn’t just a movement for church people. This is for the whole community of the greater Westside’ he said. In addition to church leaders and parishioners, members of the business community, local politicians, and even the Chicago Police department have joined in with the march and prayer vigils. ‘The response in the community has really been awesome. People are excited and are stepping up to get more involved in making a difference for our young people and the safety of our neighborhoods’.
Prayer Around the Schools is a monthly gathering and can be attended by anyone. It is held on the first Saturday of the month. The next Prayer Around the Schools vigil will be held on Saturday March 3rd at 9am outside William Penn School, 1616 S. Avers. For more information, please call 773.521.8428.