A Church Where All Are Welcome and All Stories Are Heard
Chicago is a city of stories. Stories of power and weakness, stories of joy and pain, stories of error and redemption and all the stories in between make up the narrative of the city. Gilead Church Chicago is built on the idea that true stories save lives because every story is a God story, an interesting though subtle call to the oral tradition inherent in many religions.
At its core, Gilead Chicago exists to bring people together to do 3 things: 1.) Tell true stories that save lives; 2.) Grow and share good food; 3.) Make beautiful and creative worship. The church was established by former University of Chicago Divinity School classmates Rebecca Anderson and Vince Amlin, who wanted to establish a church that brings joyfulness and community back into worship, in a way that would be inclusive of folks who might not be comfortable in a traditional church setting.
Acting as co-pastors, the pair brought together the two denominations in which they are ordained–Amlin in the United Church of Christ and Anderson in the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ). While getting the new church established, founding members met at 7059 North Greenview, also the home of the Rogers Park Presbyterian Church.
Throughout 2016, Gillead offered preview services and social events, including a garlic planting party. In 2017, Gilead launched the “Balm of Gilead” Session IPA custom brew as a thank you gift for donors and supporters. The effort gained local and national attention, and even before regular services began, the church attracted attention and was featured on the Today Show on April 11, 2017. In 2018, they added a Summer Wheat Ale to the mix which they named “On the Threshing Floor” for the story from the book of Ruth.
Regular Gilead worship services began at Buffalo Bar at the Heartland Cafe, 7006 N. Glenwood, in May 2017 and continued to meet there until the Heartland was closed at the end of 2018. Since then, this unique, contemporary approach to worship continues to build a congregation as it searches for a permanent home.
The name Gilead comes from the Book of Jeremiah, which among other themes, focuses on redemption and healing for all people. Gilead’s worship services are focused around poetry, music, communion and storytelling in various forms from short answer prompts to longer stories.
Gilead Chicago is a new version of the Chicago storefront church.