A blue cloth covers a fold-out table with an array of devotional books, counseling materials and other Biblical information arranged across the top. People stand nearby huddled in circles praying for strangers, despite temperatures below freezing.


The table sits outside the Cook County Courthouse at Daley Plaza, and the people praying are a part of Courtside Ministries, a group of Christians dedicated to pray for those going in and out of the courthouses.


The table is anything but commonplace next to this towering building. Lawyers, judges, court clerks, and security walk to court every day along with hundreds of others who have a legal battle to face. The courthouse represents power and for many, a daunting legal system. The table represents humility and the chance to ask for mercy. 



The beginning of a ministry


What started at one court has now spread to seven at the Daley Plaza, Criminal Court, Marybrook Court, Markham Court, Dupage County Court, Will County Court and the courthouse in Valparaiso, Ind. where 18 different team leaders help coordinate volunteers at each location. Mike Kienapple and Tom Strening have been directors of Chicago's Courtside Ministries since 2011, and they hope to see Courtside Ministries expand around the city and to other states.


Courtside Ministries' rapid growth in Chicago began from a grassroots ministry in Colorado Springs, Col. Christian Legal Society member Attorney Tyler Makepeace, who practiced family and criminal law in Colorado Springs began to pray for people at his local courthouse in 2009. Sporadic and Spirit-led, the Colorado group remained in Colorado until Makepeace met Mauck & Baker Attorney Noel Sterett through CLS in San Diego.  


"After I met Tyler at the national CLS conference, we stayed in touch and began praying with others to see if God would give us the opportunity to bring Courtside to Chicago," said Sterett. "And God did more than we could have asked or imagined."


A year later, Mike Kienapple, a trained pastor looking for a new ministry, crossed paths with Sterett and after showing interested in the ministry at the courts was introduced to Makepeace. 


"The meeting was so powerful and God's leading was so clear that we were able to launch Courtside Ministries in Chicago in just a few months time," Sterett explained. Sterett and Mauck & Baker Attorney Andy Norman are on the national board of Courtside Ministries aiding in activities such as media management and planning Courtside events. 



Completing one another


CLS has been an avid supporter of Courtside Ministries from the beginning, according to Kienapple. Through CLS, Courtside finds legal support for their work at the courts, a downtown home for their supplies and a community of believers to pray for them before they begin their ministry.


"I feel like we complete each other," said Kienapple, referring to CLS. Attorneys minister to the legal needs of their clients and Courtside Ministries ministers to the spiritual needs--both seeking to heal the broken. 


"We cross over often where we pray for each other. And to me that's huge, because together completing each other, not competing with each other is what's manifesting a change in the atmosphere and the change in the culture both in the courthouse and in the courthouse plazas." 


In the spotlight


Such a public display of faith couldn't stay a secret for long. Since October, Courtside Ministries has been on Chicago's WGNTV Channel 9 News twice and an article by the Chicago Tribune is scheduled to come out before the end of the year focused exclusively on Courtside's work in the city. Kienapple's response has been one of awe and humility.


"I feel humbled. We have done nothing in the way of trying to make that happen," said Kienapple. "I feel like God has got us in a season where he wants to highlight us. We've been asking for God's favor. It's divine favor."


Strening was more hesitant to see the media cover Courtside, but believed the media was surprisingly fair in their coverage--even positive. They are in agreement that this is just one of many opportunities for the church to move outside of a building. 


"[Through Coutside] I believe God is moving hearts to promote what he is doing," said Kienapple. 


Illinois drivers banned from using hand-held cell phones  

by Richard C. Baker
If you hated the cameras installed at intersections, then you will be even more irritated by a new law passed in Illinois aimed at cell phone use. And like the cameras, its sure to be a revenue generator. As of January 1, 2013 the new law imposes greater restrictions and stronger penalties on all drivers using hand-held electronic devices while driving anywhere in Illinois. (See 625 ILCS 5/12-610.2

Under the new law drivers are prohibited not only from composing, sending and receiving electronic messages but also any use of an electronic communications device while driving. Included within the meaning of electronic communication devices are various hand-held devices such as cell phones and personal digital assistants (PDA's), as well as laptops and other portable computers. Thankfully, there is an exception for devices that can be use "by pressing a single button to initiate or terminate a voice communication." 

Thus the law exempts OnStar, smart phones and PDA's used in hands free mode with a headset as well as GPS or navigation system integrated into the vehicle, CB and HAM radios. Given the new law, the Samsung Galaxy S4, iPhones and other smart phones and PDAs with voice-activation used solely with hands-free voice commands such as SIRI will be in even more demand. 

So what are the penalties if you are caught with your ear to the phone held in your hand? The maximum fine for the first-time violation is $75, $100 for the second offense and $125 for the third. Any subsequent violations are $150. Adam Lesker in his article for the October Illinois Bar Journal has some helpful tips on how to avoid breaking the law by using software add-ons and changes to a phone's settings to enable those devices to operate either with the touch of a single button or with voice-activated commands.



Richard Baker is a firm member of Mauck & Baker, LLC with an active practice representing churches and not for profit organizations for over 32 years. He is personally active in missions and serves on several boards or committees active in international ministry. 

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Church Interest 
 The average pastor in America could soon be facing personal financial pain after a federal judge in Madison, Wis., recently ruled that a tax free housing allowance currently enjoyed by clergy under the protection of a nearly 60-year-old law is "unconstitutional," and pastors are not happy about it.


When the Supreme Court paved the way for universal recognition of same-sex marriage last June, opponents predicted that polygamy would be next. They didn't realize how quickly this would happen.

Mauck & Baker News

Attorney Richard C. Baker was interviewed by WBEZ in the article Illinois gay marriage becomes law as it prompts hope, concern.  Please inform us at of your interest in a conference to discuss legal issues surrounding same-sex marriage for church pastors and leaders. 

Jeff Koch, a Chicago-based Senior Loan Consultant, visited Mauck & Baker for a professional presentation as well as a musical performance glorifying the Lord.  See his website for further information on his work as a mortgage banker and his music