First United is a growing, inclusive, diverse 800-member congregation eight miles west of downtown Chicago. We focus on mission in our metropolitan area and equipping our members to be God’s people in the world.
First United Church strives to nurture values that are deeply rooted in the congregation—inclusiveness, diversity, justice for all God’s people, caring for the Biblical roots of our faith—as we move into the post-modern world filled with spiritually hungry, institutionally suspicious people. Although we look just like many traditional mainline churches, we are doing our best to reshape the way we do church in order to reach out to new generations of believers.
Children and adults scramble into every corner for educational opportunities. Teachers connect with little ones; adults find challenge in confronting tough topics; teens flock to Sunday evening youth groups; scripture lives in collage, film, and clay. Committees meet less and accomplish more; pews are full and parking is a problem; the building is busy with nursery school, homeless shelter, bible study, sewing group, concerts, AA.
Baptisms are way up. Weddings are numerous again. Outreach is a way of life. Stewardship is an every-single-day activity. Faith is shared in the weekly evotional emailed to members of the congregation. Advertising has moved from “normal” church ads to 200-word thought-provoking columns in the local paper. Banners flank the front doors bearing a message of unfamiliar church speak. Outsiders take note. Web site gets checked out. Life at First United is, well, different than the church we used to know. Thank God!
Oak Park is eight miles west of downtown Chicago. The west side of Chicago includes some of the most challenging urban neighborhoods in the country. These challenges are less than two miles from our church. Forty years ago, Oak Park fought “white flight” and put programs in place that affirmed the community’s expressed value to be a diverse, open place to live. This struggle was led by many people in First Presbyterian Church and First Congregational Church which, in 1975, united to be one congregation. One of the challenges in Oak Park today is to understand our setting and our challenges in the 21st century.
Seminarians will experience every aspect of ministry in the local church, as time and interest allows. We presume seminarians will be motivated to ask questions, seek answers, participate as a leader, and take part as a member of the ministry team. There will be opportunities to lead worship, preach, lead bible study, visit with members in their homes and in the hospital, lead group discussions.
First United is directly west from downtown Chicago. Take the Eisenhower west to Austin Blvd. Go north on Austin Blvd to Lake St. Head west on Lake St. First United is one block from Oak Park Ave, next to the Oak Park Public Library and across the street from the Post office and Unity Temple.
By public transportation, take the Green line (Harlem/Lake) to Oak Park Ave. Head north on Oak Park Ave one block to Lake St. go west (left) on Lake St., one block to First United.
Rev. Julie Harley - Ordained in the United Church of Christ