In Wake of Ferguson, Rockford Church Works to Build Nonviolent Community


Photo courtesy of Samuel Sarpiya
An RV that has been donated to the Rockford Community Church effort to create a Mobile Lab to help build nonviolent community among the youth.

By Samuel Sarpiya

Since the Michael Brown incident, as a congregation we have been looking for ways to avert such from happening in Rockford, knowing that back in 2009 we had a similar incident. We have been working with the Police Department to build a healthy and positive Nonviolence Community Policing and Community relationship.

We are in the process of launching what we call the “Mobile Lab” where young Black men caught in a vicious cycle may be trained in nonviolence and conflict response to gang violence, by using their creative skills and talents.

This initiative is gaining traction within the minority community in Rockford. As part of a community and police partnership, the Police Department has donated an RV that we intend to re-purpose for empowerment and transformation.

Here is a document about the new effort:

Mobile Lab!

Rockford Community Church in collaboration with the Center for Nonviolence and Conflict Transformation invites you to join us in a movement to transform our city, which has been affected by gang and drug related violence most especially in the minority communities. We recognize that there are great potential that exist in this city. We are introducing a ground-breaking project that would change the face of our city. We plan on rising a generation that seeks nonviolence as a way of life and at the same time use their potential for a fulfilled life. We are introducing to you the Mobile Lab.

The Mobile Lab is geared towards educating Rockford city teen and young adults with skills in computer literacy, i.e. graphic design, App development, web design, coding.

— MobileApp Design will teach the youth of the proper age everything there is to know when it comes to creating an application for mobile phones and mobile pads. Whether it is for fun and games, books, business, or education, learning the skills of App Development is very essential.

— Web Design is a very important skill to have knowledge of in today’s world of technology. The Internet makes up a large part of the economy when it comes to global business and marketing. The Mobile Lab will provide all the training for website design.

— Video Editing and Production. There is no other way to express your visual creativity without the right video production. The Mobile Lab will train youth of the proper age everything from pre- to post-production video editing and camera operation and video special effects using professional editing software.

— Coding. Software programming is the language of today and the future. We will teach young and creative kids how to code for websites as well as based on the customer’s need.

The Mobile Lab will also function as a Mobile Recording Studio.

As a Lab, it would serve as an incubator for transformation. With the abundance of talents in the city’s creative skills and the ability to learn on the fly, the Mobile Lab would seek to educate young people to use their gifts and talents instead of joining gang-related activities due to boredom and lack of a place to express them.

Currently we are seeking grants to help retrofit our newly gifted RV into the Mobile Lab.

— Samuel Sarpiya pastors Rockford (Ill.) Community Church of the Brethren and is active in the denomination’s Intercultural Ministries and in On Earth Peace.

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