Proviso ministers form alliance to help ex-cons

Proviso Ministerial Alliance Network starts 'Outside the Walls'

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By DELORES MCCAIN

The Proviso Township Ministerial Alliance Network held their "Outside the Walls" celebration Saturday, Sept. 2, in Douglas Park, 1400 S. Sacramento. It was a day filled with songs of praise, praise dancers and speeches by such notables as Cong. Danny K. Davis; Pastor Earlie Johnson, High Mt. M.B. Church; Bobbie L. Steele, president, Cook County Board of Commissioners; Minister Lonnie Hunter; Tio Hardiman, speaking about "Wisdom of the Streets;" Benneth Lee, on "Keeping It Real;" Hope House Men's Choir; and Rev. Tim White and The Voices.

Various activities included gifts for all who attended and a "free" clothes giveaway for individuals in need. Although "Outside the Walls" is a religious-based organization, the music and inspirational words appealed to everyone.

The organization's acronym is PT-MAN and its mission is to promote serving those most in need within Proviso Township and the Westside community and promote unity and brotherly interaction among the clergy of Proviso Township and the Westside of Chicago to meet the needs of the community. Four of the officers of PT-MAN commented on why they were out supporting this event.

Chairman of the Board Bishop Dr. Claude Porter explained, "PT-MAN has been expressing concerns about churches being only looked at as a Sunday morning activity and inside the compounds of those walls and that institution. We believe the church is a seven-day-a-week affair and we need to come outside the building and go out in the streets and the highways and byways as the Bible claims for us to do, and spread the word and embrace those who are lost and need to be found. So therefore we come to [Douglas Park] today to express our concerns about those that nobody else seems to want to care about. We are reaching out and showing them that God loves them. If God loves them, we love them and everybody deserves a second chance because we were given a second chance. We are here to lift them up through the power of God and through prayer and praying together and staying together."

Bishop Porter said this could be an annual event. "We are talking about this event being a yearly affair and getting more people involved as we move along. People are always hesitant when you first do something, but we want to assure the public and prove to them that God is in the midst of what we're doing here today. And not just on the West Side of Chicago, but throughout this whole state. Everybody needs to say, 'I've paid my fines, I've got my dues, and now it's time for me to be a part of society once again,' and we want to give them that opportunity."

Vice chairman of PT-MAN, Pastor Emanuel Little had these comments: "We're here today to show support, to try to get our ex-cons who are coming back into our community some type of restitution so their lives can begin to surface and not fall back into the same trail they went into."

Executive director of PT-MAN, Rev. Dr. Reginald J. Saffo, added: "I worked with Rev. Tommie Johnson to coordinate this effort on behalf of PT-MAN. We are attempting to go 'beyond the walls.' Although we are headquartered in Proviso Township, our interest is not just limited there. So we just wanted to communicate to this community that we are concerned about the least of them, wherever they may be. Therefore, we are committed to this effort and we thank God for the opportunity."

Administrator Rev. Dr. Joseph Jones of Pleasant Ridge Baptist Church (113 S. Central Ave.) said, "I'm here in support of this outreach ministry here in our community. There is an old song that says, 'I once was lost, but now I'm found,' and that represents myself and many others. We're here now to bring back wholeness to a people that was lost. And certainly ex-cons who have been incarcerated, now they are out on the streets as we would call it, and now they have another chance. I find that there is no better chance than we, the pastors, and the churches to come out of the pulpit and to reach and touch those persons and give them a new way of life. Therefore, my support here today is to give new life to those who have been bound and incarcerated from (what we call) a normal society. I'm here and I love this purpose and this cause, and I will continue to give my support to a cause of this kind. I've had the privilege of doing things like this in my path with a rehab drug program in my church, and I've had shelters that I've supported. We are also giving clothes to the needy and things of material need. Our church has been on the forefront of donating blood and many of our members participated. Certainly if you give, it will return unto you, so I'm thankful for this privilege."

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