Congregations, Health, and Healing

This project brought together four religious congregations in Evanston, Illinois, representing the Catholic, Lutheran, Reformed Jewish, and African American Baptist tradition. The congregations chose to focus on community violence as a public health issue, but it became apparent in the course of the project that different groups within the community defined “violence” in different ways. However, all shared a common conviction that violence was a bona fide “public health” issue. Through multiple meetings and events in the congregations and the larger community, the project elicited reflection on these multiple meanings and manifestations of violence from both theological and practical perspectives and proposed ways in which religious congregations in Evanston could work more closely together and with other community organizations to address violence as an issue of community health. The project was funded by the Chicago Community Trust and Wheat Ridge Ministries.


“Voices from the Pews: Congregants Focus on Health, Healing, and Community Violence,” 15 Park Ridge Center Bulletin (May 2000)

Congregations and Violence, special issue Park Ridge Center Bulletin 15 (May 2000)

“Religion, Ethics, and Public Health: Connections, Themes, and Applications to the Problem of Violence,” Paper presented at the annual meeting of the American Academy of Religion, 2002.


A Justice that Heals (producer Jay Shefsky, 2000) “A one-hour documentary film, produced by Jay Shefsky, the film is a story of murder, faith, and forgiveness. A teen shoots and kills another teen. A family grieves the murder of their son. Mario Ramos, the perpetrator, is arrested, tried, and convicted of the crime. For Mario and the family of the victim, Andrew Young, these tragic events were just the beginning of an unusual journey of Christian faith and reconciliation initiated by a Catholic priest and parish who chose to become involved. This documentary is a story about forgiveness. This story follows Mario Ramos, his crime, his rehabilitation, and the surprising families that made it all possible.” For more information about this film, click here). See clips from the film here.