Days Before Jonylah Watkins' Funeral, Pastor Preaches Lesson in Consequence
WOODLAWN — Nearly a week after 6-month-old Jonylah Watkins was shot and killed in Woodlawn, the family's pastor and spokesman spoke briefly on the young girl's death and Chicago's gun violence epidemic.
The baby's funeral is Tuesday at New Beginnings Church — the same church where the family's spokesman, the Rev. Corey Brooks, delivered a sermon Sunday morning on decision-making and the consequences that inevitably follow.
While not naming Jonylah directly, Brooks urged his congregation to keep her family in mind, especially the young girl's father, Jonathan Watkins, who Brooks said has taken unfair hits in the media since her death.
"We understand, 'cause we live in the 'hood." Brooks said. "Just because you make mistakes [doesn't mean] you're a throwaway."
Apart from Watkins' reported gang ties, much of the online buzz surrounding Jonylah's death has targeted the 28-year-old father for blame — some readers and bloggers going so far as to suggest he used his daughter as a human shield.
"Isn't it amazing how [the media] doesn't talk about how he was a father?" Brooks asked. "Here was a man taking care of his baby ... here was a brother changing his baby's diaper."
"I don't care how bad you are — you're taking care of your kids in the 'hood? Then you marry your baby's mama? There's got to be good in you," Brooks said.
Brooks sermon, entitled "Change Your Choices, Change Your Life," didn't make an explicit link to Watkins' past, but the pastor's words hinted at a correlation many in the pews could understand.
"One of the things I've learned this week — more than any time in my life — is that the choices we make have consequences," Brooks said.
Brooks continued to defend Jonathan Watkins, as he has in the days since Jonylah's death.
"My mama used to always say, 'Even a broken clock is right two times a day'," the pastor said.