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Chicago Circuit Rider Series

Posted: April 7 2018 at 07:49 AM
Circuit Riders Web 01

Seven Chicago clergy are rotating pulpits to enhance the connection

Young clergy are traveling around the city of Chicago, many riding the "L",  to a different church on Sundays from April 8 to May 20 for a pulpit sharing series they've created together titled, “CTA Circuit Riders Sermon Series.”

The cluster of seven pastors in the city has been meeting with each other for less than a year when they decided to create the sermon series that will share several topics including "Being the Church: What It Means to be United Methodist"; "Dealing with United Methodist identity, structure, or history", and "Remembering our United Methodist Church identity." 

“As a pastor of an urban church, I have found resonance with my colleagues as we face similar challenges and a desire to respond to the needs of the city,” said Pastor April Gutierrez of Berry UMC in Lincoln Square. “We are able to support each other in ministry and invite our congregations to connect with other churches in the city through pulpit sharing.”

The pastors get together regularly to discuss ways to collaborate including Confirmation preparation to joint services for Holy Week. As they have gotten to know one another they wanted to be in one another’s churches and learn more about how to engage with each other’s congregations. This has roots in the denomination, however, most pastors do not have the opportunity to worship with one another’s congregations. 

In early North American Methodism, John Wesley—the founder of what has become The United Methodist Church—created a plan of multiple meeting places, called circuits. A circuit was made up of two or more local churches and a bishop would appoint a clergyperson for each circuit. Every Sunday morning, these pastors would travel for miles to visit each church, often by horseback. Eventually, these traveling preachers became known as Circuit Riders.

Today, we are inspired by those Circuit Riders who went outside the church, traveling across their appointed areas to share the Gospel message. 

“Our public transportation loops around the city with relative ease. In the same way, our UMC structure is intertwined when Methodism started in Chicago churches -they were in every neighborhood so that folks could find a community that holds Wesleyan tradition and honors the neighborhood culture," said Mark Schol of Grace Church in Logan Square. "We as a co-op of pastors recognize that Chicago is a city of neighborhoods each with their own identity with our faith tradition being something that is binding us together.”

Motivated by our Methodist heritage, this local group of clergy is traveling around the city (often by CTA!) and rotating through each of the churches to preach on a different topic of United Methodism. This series hopes to connect folks to their heritage and inspire connections throughout the city as faith communities who are inclusive, relevant and rooted in hope. The following are the faith leaders and churches participating in the pulpit exchange:

Sabrina Bermingham, (Rev. Lindsey Joyce) United Church of Rogers Park

Rev. Krista Paradiso, Elston Ave UMC

Rev. Juyeon Jeon, Epworth UMC

Rev. April Gutierrez, Berry UMC

Rev. Hope Chernich, Irving Park UMC

Rev. Kelli Beard, Holy Covenant UMC

Rev. Mark Schol, Grace Logan Square

Each Sunday, come to hear a different preacher and be part of an experience of what it means to be United Methodist—what we believe, what makes us unique, and how we seek to live out our faith.

The sermon series begins this Sunday, April 8 and the pastors will return to their home churches on Pentecost Sunday, May 20. 

I look upon all the world as my parish.” –John Wesley

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