Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Urban Village Church - Chicago

Located at a busy intersection, (Milwaukee, Division and Ashland) Urban Village Church is tucked away in the urban landscape that surrounds it. There is no evidence of a church – since it meets in a theater (Chopin Theater) on the edge of Wicker Park. As I walked toward the building, I spotted greeters outside on the sidewalk, welcoming folk and pointing them toward the inside of the building. As I walked in, I was greeted and asked to put on a nametag – and handed a bulletin. That felt churchy. Since I was a bit early, I rambled through the narthex, looking at the eclectic collection of hangings on the wall, from paintings to prints to fabric. As the “sanctuary” opened and I found a comfortable place to sit, I could not help but notice, nothing in the space spoke of “church” in the traditional sense, except one table tucked in the corner of the space with bread and wine setting on it. Also absent was any indication of this being a United Methodist congregation. The band was taking up most of the front of the space – and around the room were stage props set up for the “drama” that was playing at the theater. But the props worked well to relay the feeling of the urban world. If I was guessing what play was being performed at the theater, my guess would be West Side Story. As the service began the first praise song went right over my head – unfamiliar. I was happy when the second praise hymn was Holy, Holy, Holy. I knew the words, but have never sung it to a bass guitar. The rest of the service had traditional elements, sermon, communion, and scripture readings – so the core of the service was familiar. The median age was 30ish (many in their early 20s) – and the sermon was directed toward that age range. The topic of the day - sex. I am sure that the text was not part of the lectionary readings for the day. The sermon’s theme was inviting the congregation to think intentionally about how their sexuality and sexual behaviors fit into a “Christian” sexual ethic. The sermon lasted 35 minutes. After worship I had a warm conversation with 6 members of the congregation. It was obvious from their enthusiasm and their candor, that Urban Village was meeting a deep need within their spiritual life as they tried to live faithfully within their diverse, urban landscape. I appreciated their hospitality, and energy. Urban Village web site is: www.urbanvillagechurch.org

1 comment:

karen schneider said...

It is good to hear about other churches that are also struggling with how to be relevant in 2013. Meanwhile, I have very much enjoyed the gifts of our guest pastors for the past two weeks. TJ and Daniel have obviously put a lot of thought and energy into their services and have both pulled community members into the process in interesting ways. It is good to be able to affirm the presence of folks in our community who can lead, and also those whose participation adds to the meaningfulness of the services.