Who we are:
Founded in 1962, RUM (as Rockford Urban Ministries is affectionately known) is the outreach of more than twenty faith communities working together on social justice ministries. In its 60 years RUM has had four clergy directors. Since 1985, lay director Stanley Campbell has had the pleasure of doing the work. Violet Johnicker joined the staff in 2021 and together they work to resource congregations with tools to advocate for justice issues.
What we do:
- Listen and respond to the needs of the community
- Take risks to advocate for meaningful change and proven policy initiatives, even and especially when they are unpopular
- Share our views with elected officials at the local, state, and federal levels
- Offer trainings and teach-ins about important issues
- Partner with community organizations in the Rockford region
What we believe:
Together, faith communities have the power to make a difference in building the beloved community.
Projects of Rockford Urban Ministries (RUM):
1. The Shalom Zone on 7th Street focuses the meager resources of the church in one small area of Rockford.
2. JustGoods Fair Trade Store (201 – 7th Street) began in 2007 after RUM helped shut down the worst liquor store in town. The Store is now closed, but RUM is searching for a suitable ministry to occupy that beautiful space.
– RUM installed a wind generator and solar panels on top of JustGoods in 2009. They still provide free electricity.
– RUM educates people on responsible investing and purchasing environmental and fair trade products.
3. RUM helped Zion Development shut down a pornographic bookstore, then moved into the building, and spent a considerable time rehabbing that white elephant (we can see why Jesus never had a building). RUM’s commitment to bring shalom to this neighborhood includes much more than just fixing buildings.
4. Rockford Work Camps finds meaningful volunteer opportunities for groups, from youth to adult, who come to Rockford from all over the country.
– RUM’s Work Camps support rehabilitating houses through Rockford New Hope, Habitat for Humanity, and Zion Development (all church sponsored). Rockford has a number of boarded-up houses that can be turned into affordable homes, and Work Camps help with volunteers.
5. Rockford Urban Ministries started the local CROP Hunger Walk (third Sunday of October) in 1986. It is now a yearly event sponsored by RUM and local churches. Last year raised over $52,000 for CROP and local food pantries and soup kitchens. This year’s goal is $40,000.
6. RUM works for tolerance of different religions through its founding of the Rockford Interfaith Council. RUM also supports local Black and Women’s History Months, Hiroshima Peace Commemoration, and Memorial Day services. RUM plans and sets up anti-racism programs, peace & justice and environmental discussion groups in churches and the community.
7. Founded Rockford Interfaith Council and encourages ecumenical efforts.
8. Encourages the wealthy and comfortable to aid the poor.
9. RUM helped establish and fund Promised Land Employment Service, a professional employment agency for the long-term unemployed that has successfully served over 1,000 people per year in finding full-time employment.
10. Worked for improved programming for the kids of the Winnebago County Juvenile Detention Center. Encouraged the construction of a new facility and the funding of rehabilitation programs for the kids, and is presently encouraging re-entry programs for the newly released.
11. RUM fights the increasing reliance of the state on gambling, casinos and video slot machines, as well as other governmentally approved addictive business enterprises. Woe to those who profit off disease.
12. RUM is open to new missional and ministerial projects that can involve the member congregations and the community.