Month: April 2017

Op-Ed: One Year In, We’re Still Committed to All Generations

emp2

People worshipping during a 1-year anniversary service of Empowerment Church in March. | Below, Empowerment’s pastor, Rev. Teddy Matthews, preaches during service. || Shanel Romain/VFP

emp1Sunday, April 30, 2017 || By Rev. Teddy Matthews || @maywoodnews

Starting a church is no easy task. In the beginning, we had no members, no facility, no budget. What we did have, however, is a call and the understanding that it was time to act on that call.

My wife, daughter, mom, and a few close friends and family began a local Bible study in the fall of 2015 at the River Forest Public Library. That’s when the vision was cast and the need for a church became clearer than ever to me.

Despite reports stating that churchgoing was declining nationally and that young people were turning away from the church, our Bible study proved that people of all ages have a desire to grow and learn.

In early 2016, I shared publically for the first time that we were starting a new church in order to reach people, restore lives, and impact generations — which remains the mission of Empowerment Church.

In our short existence, we’re proud to say that we serve five different generations—from our babies to our seasoned saints. We’re living out our commitment to impact generations.

We recently celebrated our church anniversary with record-breaking attendance, which indicates clearly that we’re going in the right direction. In just one year of existence, we’ve executed a range of outreach initiatives.

Some of those initiatives include partnering with District 89 to provide backpacks and school supplies in the fall, hosting a coat drive in the winter and serving over 100 kids in the community during our first Easter egg hunt. The list could go on and on. We’ve seen God do amazing works through the hands of those committed to serving his church.

We host our weekly services at the Cinemark Theater in Melrose Park, where we have seen growth and life transformation take place. Our E-Kids children’s ministry meets weekly during the same time as our adult service. It is an experience where children under 12 are provided the opportunity to learn and grow on their level.

Our online platform and social media allow us to serve those all over the world. Our street team goes out weekly to provide outreach and evangelism in some of the local community hotspots, including the malls and restaurants.

Suffice it to say, I’m excited about what is happening and consider it a great privilege to serve our church and the community at-large. I’m excited to see what God will continue to do as we stay focused on His purpose and mission of reaching people, restoring lives and impacting generations.

For more information about Empowerment Church, you can visit www.empowerment.church or Facebook.com/empowermentchurchchicago. VFP

Fore more local perspectives, ‘Like’ VFP on Facebook

facebook logo

Letters: Anahi Soto Goes to Washington | This Is Politics, Or Is It?

Letter to the Editor

Sunday, April 30, 2017 || LETTERS || @maywoodnews

My experience at the National League of Cities Conference

The Maywood Youth Council has once again made their appearance in the National League of Cities Conference in Washington D.C., which was held from March 11 to March 15.  Keyanna Turner and myself, who are both sophomores from Proviso East High School;  Jeramia Sowell, a junior at Proviso East; John Michael  Dawson, a junior at Proviso Math and Science Academy; and Reena Murphy, a senior at Walter Lutheran Christian Academy.

We are five brilliant students with impressive GPAs well above 3.0 and a desire to improve their beloved village. Trustee Isiah Brandon took on the responsibility to bring us to Washington D.C. yet again in hopes that more resources could be utilized. 

This year, the conference events taught us about the importance of networking. Many of us received contact information from people like Scot Carter, the chief of the Department of Agriculture; Star Wilbraham, a small business analyst; and Diane Delaware, the mayor of Yazoo, Mississippi.

Upon our arrival to the conference, we went through workshops that gave us a foundation for future networking. We also attended congressional meetings on issues like clean water preservation.

We also learned how lobbyists lobby, how policies function and how to be leaders. For instance, at one workshop, we had to write a policy that implemented a plan to give an area free internet. During these meetings, we were conversation-starts and deep-thinking participants.

As a returning member of the council, I was very impressed by these individuals who knew that they attended this conference with a greater purpose: to make Maywood prosper — and not just for themselves.

I want to thank everyone who made this available to the youth: the trustees, the mayor, the teachers and the residents of our fine village. We’ve done well as community members to raise such open-minded individuals.  The village of the eternal flame shines on!

— Anahi Soto, Proviso East High School sophomore

This is politics, or is it?

Right on the brink of the recent Maywood, IL mayoral April 4th, 2017 election, voting citizens observed a duplication of two candidates’ names, titles and photographs on the Palm Cards of opposing slates. Naturally, we wonder, ‘how can this even happen?’

When then candidate, then mayor, now Mayor Elect, Madam Edwenna Perkins was approached regarding integrity and morality, unfair campaign practices, ethics, personal principles and the like, she coldly and flatly responded, “THIS IS POLITICS.”

Since then, charges regarding these self-same concerns have been leveled against Madam Mayor Elect Perkins, along with her counterpart, re-elected Village Clerk, Viola Mims, with respect to violations stemming from blatant disregard for legislation instituted by the Illinois State Officials and Employees Ethics Act, 5 ILCS 430/5-15. The Village of Maywood has adopted the prohibited political activities provisions of the Act, as required by law.

This, is politics.

— Fern Rayon, Freelancer, FERNsWORKs

Email your opinions and concerns to thevillagefreepress@gmail.com. Submissions are subject to minor editing and do not reflect the opinions or beliefs of the Village Free Press.

Maywood Checkers Shuttered | Maywood Church, Seeking to Expand, Confronts Officials Worried About Losing Taxes

IMG_5551

IMG_5552Saturday, April 29, 2017 || By Michael Romain || @maywoodnews || Updated: 3:55 p.m.

Less than three years after it first opened in September 2014, the Checkers at 1718 S. First Ave. in Maywood is closed.

The closure seems rather abrupt, considering the store location still has a Facebook page that was active up until March 28 and the location is still listed on the company’s online database of locations.

In a phone interview on Saturday, Trustee Isiah Brandon said that Checkers officials contacted village officials Monday with the news that the store was closing. They also sent an email, he said. Company officials cited low sales as a contributing factor, Brandon added.

In a 2014 interview, Christopher Ilekis, a principal at Vequity, the real estate investment and development company that bought the property before leasing it to Checkers, said that the property, which had formerly been a KFC restaurant, had been in bankruptcy before his company acquired it in a portfolio sale.

The Maywood store opened on the same day as the Broadview checkers, located at 1617 W. Roosevelt Rd. The latter location is still open. The Maywood store, along with the Broadview store, was corporately owned and operated.

No one from Checkers or Vequity could be contacted for comment over the weekend. More as this story develops.

Screen Shot 2017-04-29 at 12.51.51 PM.png

Maywood church, seeking expansion, runs into village concerns over taxes 

Screen Shot 2017-04-29 at 2.04.14 PM

Screen Shot 2017-04-29 at 2.04.28 PMA Maywood church seeking to expand its operations into an area that’s zoned commercial while maintaining property tax exemption encountered some wariness among some village officials at an April 26 Legal, License and Ordinance Committee (LLOC) meeting.

The New Hope Christian Center Church, 14 S. 19th Ave., wants to buildout and modify existing unoccupied commercial space at 2 South 19th Ave., which is separated from the church facility by a vacant, fenced-in lot. The church owns both properties.

New Hope plans to turn the commercial space into theNew Hope Empowerment Center, an “educational agency” that would “focus on teaching Christian principles, as well as academics and technology values to individuals of all ages,” according to project summary released by the church’s pastor, Bishop Anthony G. Wellington.

According to a business plan that Wellington submitted on behalf of his church, the new facility would host weekly job training sessions, prayer meetings, “biblical guidance sessions” and “biblical enhancement sessions.”

But village staff members and some board members stated that they’re worried that “this project may be an expansion of the [tax-exempt] church into the C2 Pedestrian Oriented Commercial District,” according to an April 26 village memo written by Josh Koonce, the village’s planning and zoning officer.

“In fact,” Koonce states, “Mr. Wellington has indicated that the purpose of the new development is to expand the capacity and footprint of the church.”

Screen Shot 2017-04-29 at 2.03.26 PM

At Wednesday’s LLOC meeting, Trustee Michael Rogers expressed some reservations over the village allowing the church to turn the commercial property, which currently generates commercial property taxes, into tax-exempt property.

“The whole concept of our [taking the] limited commercial property that we have off the tax rolls is problematic,” Rogers said.

“That zone, when you cross the tracks, is called Broadway. That’s a heavy commercial usage. The non-conforming uses already there are grandfathered in, but it’s important not to lose any more commercial property with the straits that the village is in.”

Rogers said that, despite his reservations, the church’s proposal should be vetted by the village’s Planning Commission and Zoning Board of Appeal. Trustee Henderson Yarbrough echoed Rogers’s sentiments.

“I have the same concerns that Trustee Rogers just mentioned,” he said. “With this going to the planning and zoning board, hopefully these questions will be answered during that period of time. We look forward to their recommendations.”

Wellington’s attorney, however, said that the church’s proposal represents the “highest and best” use of the abandoned commercial space, which used to be a paint store.

“Any other commercial use would be an island on that corner,” he said.

The board voted unanimously on village staff’s recommendation to move the proposal to the Planning Commission and Zoning Board of Appeal.

According to the village memo, that board will be responsible for determining “whether the proposal fits within the definition of Educational Facility, Vocational School or Training Academy (a special use in the C-2 district – Section 17.4 and Table 8-1 of the Village of Maywood Zoning Ordinance), or if this proposal constitutes an expansion of a church into a commercial district (not permitted).” VFP

For more local news, ‘Like’ VFP on Facebook

facebook logo

MFA AD_April 2017