Thursday, November 21, 2013

Recently lost Chicago

Belmont Avenue and Concordia Lutheran Church, 2000
The terrible storm system that destroyed much of the town of Washington, Illinois last Sunday also hit Chicago. With the exception of 50,000 inconvenienced Bears fans at Soldier Field, the rest of us breathed a collective sigh of relief that our city was spared. Then came the news Monday morning that a stretch of Belmont Avenue between California and Western was closed because a church steeple was in danger of toppling. My heart sank as I immediately knew the church and its steeple, one of the loveliest in the city, that until this week graced the Concordia Evangelical Lutheran Church in the community of Avondale. The distinctive 1893 steeple's sheer height and ultra thin profile was a distinctive landmark in the neighborhood and for miles along Belmont Avenue. I've known it practically all my life as the church was smack dab between our house in Humboldt Park and the home of my surrogate grandfather. In recent years I'd find myself driving by the building every once in a while, greatly admiring the simple, beautiful steeple, by itself taller than the handsome neo-Gothic building that supported it, which stood in stark contrast with its surroundings, mostly undistinguished two story industrial buildings, contemporary housing developments and vacant lots. Long time residents of Chicago will probably remember this church as it sits just across the river from the site of the old Riverview amusement park.

After Sunday's storm, several supports were damaged or destroyed and the steeple perilously swayed with the breeze. City inspectors deemed the steeple too dangerous to save. It was removed on Tuesday.

Beyond the sad loss for the city, the community, and the congregation that worships in the building, that congregation of only about thirty or forty people has been strapped with the bill to remove the steeple, somewhere in the neighborhood of $100,000. It's unlikely that the small congregation will be able to pick up the tab, which may threaten their very survival as well as the survival of what's left of the building. 

I know that any help to the struggling faith community, be it in the form of prayer, or cash contribution would be greatly appreciated. Here is a link to their Facebook page which has information on how to send contributions. 


Unknown said...

Thank you for this tribute to the church. Although we are a small congregation, we have hope that we will somehow be able to make it through.

This is a beautiful picture. I hope you don't mind us posting it on our Facebook page.

James Iska said...

I would be honored. Wishing you and your congregation the very best, my thoughts and my prayers are with you.