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Reverend to stay up on the rooftop on Christmas

Friday, December 23, 2011

A Chicago minister will be spending Christmas away from his congregation and his family.

Reverend Corey Brooks of New Beginnings Church has spent the last month living on the roof of a vacant motel on the city's South Side. This could be a critical weekend for the South Side minister some call "the rooftop reverend."

Brooks is bracing himself for Christmas without his family, but he has high hopes for fundraising over the next 46 hours.

"Being in this tent on Christmas, I try to not think about the pain of it, and I try to think about the blessing that it's going to be to other people," said Brooks.

For the past 31 days and nights, the roof of an abandoned motel and what he can see from it has been the world for Brooks.

The 42-year-old pastor will miss Christmas Day service at his church across the street, and his wife and four children will spend the holiday with relatives in Indiana.

"They all understand why I'm up here and what we're trying to do, so they're very supportive," said Brooks.

The widely-publicized vigil began the week of Thanksgiving as a one-man protest against drug use and prostitution in the vacant motel and violence in general in the Woodlawn neighborhood.

"I mean, him alone - it might be a lost cause," said resident Mike Woods.

Brooks vows not to come down until he collects $450,000 to transform the motel site into a community center. He says when people look up knowing he is still there, it gives those on the ground hope that change is coming.

"Part of my calling is to help people to live better lives and so in order to do that, being on this roof, if it's encouraging them, then I'll be on the roof," said Brooks.

Lillie Roland, who lives about ten blocks away, says she supports Brooks' vigil against violence.

"I got my money, my paycheck, and I just decided I would cash it and give him a payment," said Roland.

Brooks has a wealthy donor who has promised to match any contribution between now and 3 p.m. Christmas Day. The holiday offer has energized the rooftop reverend.

"Being the Christmas season, this is what I think it ought to be about - it ought to be about giving," said Brooks. "So what better way to give to people than to give myself and to give my life and sacrifice for other people."

A month after the vigil began, Brooks says he has raised just under $100,000.

Again, any donation made between now and Sunday afternoon at 3 p.m. will be matched dollar-for-dollar up to a total $50,000.

To donate: click here for the Reverend on the Roof at www.projecthood.org

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