Peace Fellow Spotlight: Pastor Robert Biekman

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Chicago Peace Fellow, Senior Pastor, Maple Park United Methodist Church

How has Gather informed the work that you do? Have you made any meaningful connections between Gather and your work?

I am grateful to the Chicago Peace Fellows for not only increasing my personal capacity as a leader but also increasing the Chicago Alternatives to Incarceration’s Collaborative organizational capacity as well. The skills I have learned and been reminded of through the Chicago Peace Fellows have been invaluable.

Advisor Gabe Gonzalez (right) and Chicago Peace Fellow Robert Biekman meet at the first workshop to discuss the principles and practices of shared learning.

 

The adage, “If I only knew then what I know now!” is so fitting for my experience as a Peace Fellow thus far.

It’s good to be at many tables but I have a deep desire to increase my effectiveness as a leader and that’s what being a CPF is allowing me to do. Chicago Peace Fellows has connected the dots on aspects, work and concepts of this that I had an intuitive knowledge of, but now I possess the language to do the kind of “code-switching” necessary to articulate and communicate it to others more effectively.

You had me at “community of practice.” This is one of the most profound concepts that I have embraced; especially since a goal of the Chicago ATI Collaborative is to have system/community stakeholders work together. We are creating a community of practice!

 

The people in the cohort are extremely gifted and tremendously passionate. I have learned the concept of mind-mapping from one CPF and received both direct and indirect affirmation from them all. I look forward to meeting with them at the “workshop watering hole” and being blessed as well as restored for the next leg of the journey.

Chicago Peace Fellow Robert Biekman (left) discusses the role of the arts in social change with noted photographer Cecil McDonald, Jr. during a tour of his exhibit In the Company of Black at the Chicago Cultural Center.

 

In their own way, each of them I have spoken to are “making bricks without straw.” I am blessed to have met them. Several of them will be working with the Chicago ATI Collaborative youth as a means of exposing the youth to the programs and services they offer.

Chicago Peace Fellows Robert Biekman (left) and Dawn Hodges discuss violence interruption strategies at the Univesity of Chicago Trauma Center.

 

What are some important updates in your current work?

  • Received grant from United Methodist Church General Board of Church and Society
  • Received Safe and Peaceful Communities Grant
  • Met with Cook County Juvenile Probation to develop summer cohort Planning an orientation with youth and program service providers on June 6th or 10th for the Summer cohort.
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