The history of Pilgrim Faith United Church of Christ goes back more than 130 years, encompassing the story of several founding churches that merged at different times to result in our current congregation and building.
First Congregational Church of Oak Lawn was started in 1891, growing with the village and with the times. In 1955, the congregation moved into the current Pilgrim Faith location on South 51st Avenue with the completion of the new church building. In 1966, the congregation voted to change its name from First Congregational to Pilgrim UCC, reflecting its association with the newly formed United Church of Christ denomination.
Separately, in 1888 (three years before the founding of First Congregational), St. Luke Evangelical Church was formed in Chicago’s Englewood neighborhood. In 1894, Bethel Congregational Church, later to be known as Brainerd Congregational Church, was formed in the Brainerd area of Chicago. Brainerd and St. Luke’s merged in 1946 to form Faith United Church of Christ in Brainerd – preceding the merger of their parent denominations by about 10 years!
Over the following few decades, both Pilgrim and Faith grew and flourished both in numbers and in community spirit and outreach, supporting missionary programs abroad and involving themselves deeply in their own back yards. Both churches were “happening places,” burgeoning with children and youth and activities that kept them busy from morning to night.
In the late 1960s, the move to the suburbs was on, and so, in 1969, the stage was set for Pilgrim and Faith to merge, a union which began the following year and has continued to this day.
Today’s Pilgrim Faith United Church of Christ is a vibrant community church, with an inter-generational membership that is active in both local Oak Lawn and national denominational affairs. The church stands proudly in its present location, its towering steeple a fixture along Oak Lawn’s busy 95th Street.
And, as always, the doors to Pilgrim Faith are open to everyone, no matter where you are on life’s journey.