Pastor Chris Harris, Sr. is a Chicago native and has served as the Senior Pastor of Bright Star C.O.G.I.C. since 1999. Recognizing the need for more “community-minded clergy” and due to increasing violence in Chicago, he established Bright Star Community Outreach (BSCO) in 2009. This organization is committed to creating collaborative partnership program models designed to provide educational enrichment programs, anti-violence prevention, and intervention activities along with good student incentives. BSCO opened a trauma hotline in 2017 that has assisted more than 650 callers, and program ambassadors have connected with 45,000+ residents, students, school administrators, and other individuals to make them more trauma informed. With an operating budget of more than $5 million, BSCO employs 450+ people annually and leads a collaborative of 105+ organizations in the Greater Bronzeville community, including UChicago Medicine.
Under Chris’s leadership, Bright Star Church Chicago partnered with Howard Johnson to vaccinate 800+ people during the COVID-19 pandemic. Together these organizations have supported thousands of families, providing nearly $1 million in housing, utilities, and food with additional support from Rihanna’s Clara Lionel Foundation and other partners.
Chris regularly travels around the country to build relationships among African American and Jewish clergy. He has traveled to the Holy Land six times and led more than 70+ leaders to Israel. His 2012 trip to Israel prompted the development of The Urban Resilience Network (TURN) Center, which focuses on five core competencies: counseling, parenting, mentorship, workforce development, and advocacy. Its unique model utilizes faith leaders as post-trauma counselors and uses community surveys as the basis for services that directly correspond to the unique needs of constituents.