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DYK: Reflecting on change

Posted: November 27 2022 at 02:04 PM
Author: Rev. Arlene Christopherson


Staff from the NIC say goodbye to the Chicago Temple before moving to a new location about a mile northeast on Wacker Drive.

At the end of October, on our last day in the Northern Illinois Conference offices at the Chicago: Temple, while packing boxes and sorting through years of materials, I found the memories of that space bubbling up and sat down to capture a few of those images. This month’s article is my reflection at that moment of change. 

So many clergy, laity and staff have come and gone through the doors of the Chicago: Temple, where the conference has had a presence in one form or another over the 99 years this building has stood. Newly ordained pastors, confirmation classes, youth groups, lay leaders, missionaries, and even cabinets have used this space. Bishops have led from here. More bishops have roamed these halls than I can name. In the early days, annual conference sessions were held in the Temple sanctuary. 

I remember my excitement as a young clergy the first time I was invited to the conference office for a meeting. I was awed by the sanctuary's beauty, stained-glass windows and the church’s history. Rev. Charles Chacour, the first treasurer I knew, was a gregarious man who would tell visitors stories of how our church funds were changing the world. He would show off the big walk-in safe where church donations were kept. (No electronic money transfers in those days.)

During my first appointment, I recruited my mother (a non-United Methodist) to drive around the block while I ran my church's final apportionment check up to the conference office to be sure we paid 100% before the deadline. The staff was waiting, cheering on those who came in with their hand-delivered contributions.

I never dreamed I would have the honor of working in this building for 15 years. It has been more than an office space; it has been a place of mission, witness and community. On any given day, in the elevator, you could bump into a Methodist from around the world who took time out while in Chicago to visit this iconic church building. We’ve hosted press conferences, international exhibitions, and witnessed demonstrations in Daly Plaza, sometimes joining in. We celebrated in the streets when Chicago sports teams brought home their trophies. I’ve heard the drumbeat of marchers around city hall and the sirens when demonstrations got out of hand. 

We’ve been a window on the world from our vantage point, kitty-corner from city hall, next to the county building and the courts. The Chicago: Temple is the church on the corner – and the Northern Illinois Conference has been a partner in the work of seeing Christ in the city. 

Next week we will be at 303 E. Wacker. A new day, a new place with new opportunities. Today, I remember, celebrate and shed a tear for what has been. Tomorrow, we start all over again. 

Written October 26, 2022

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