Booted from Chicago home, displaced church parks in Morton Grove
Josh Jalandoon, youth pastor of Christ Our Saviour Church, meets with students at the American Legion Civic Center in Morton Grove Sunday morning. | Kevin Tanaka for~Sun-Times Media.
Updated: February 11, 2013 6:44AM
MORTON GROVE — Places of worship are known for opening their doors to the downtrodden and needy. But what happens when a church itself becomes displaced?
For Christ Our Saviour Church, it means making the ministry mobile.
For the past six years, the evangelical church has regularly hosted worship services at the Morton Grove Civic Center in lieu of a permanent bricks-and-mortar home.
Christ Our Saviour was previously located in Chicago, on Montrose Avenue near Pulaski Road for 25 years. That changed in 2006, when the city prohibited the church from operating out of its storefront building due to zoning restrictions, according to Rev. Paul “Lito” Guimary.
“We vacated the building even though owned it,” he said. “We went from a community church to a commuter church.”
The congregation temporarily relocated within the city, but an afternoon-only schedule caused membership to decline. Seeking a facility to accommodate services in the morning, the church for a brief period met at the Holiday Inn in Skokie.
Today, as many as 100 parishioners and children from across the Chicagoland area attend the church’s Sunday service at the Civic Center, with some traveling from as far as Round Lake and Lansing. During the week, a smaller group of people meet at fellow church members’ houses for prayer and dinner.
“Even though people live far away, we come together for fellowship on Sunday like a family,” Guimary said.
The predominantly Filipino congregation is also united by the shared experience of having loved ones live far away.
Guimary, who emigrated from the Philippines in 1985, said the church helps support an orphanage and ministries in his home country “with the little dollars we have.”
He added: “That’s the glue that keeps us together.”
Bernadette Macaranas of Skokie joined Christ Our Saviour just as it became mobile. Despite not having a permanent place of worship, the congregation felt right, she said.
“From the moment we started going, we felt like we belonged,” said Macaranas, who attends services with her husband and in-laws.
But she sees the downside to being on the go.
With no place to call its own, the congregation is limited by how often and for long it can meet. The children’s ministry and youth group can only accommodate so many. And, unlike at other churches, Christ Our Saviour parishioners leave after services because there’s nowhere to mingle.
“Communication is limited because of that,” Macaranas said. “All of us are really hoping to find a new building.”
Yet asking the congregation to open up their homes has created stronger relationships, she said. The roving church has also challenged its members to practice Christian values.
“The Book of Peter talks about being hospitable to one another,” Macaranas said. “In one way the Lord is giving us an opportunity to apply this.”
The church is currently in the process of selling its Chicago property. And while Guimary said he is in no rush to leave the Civic Center with its ample parking space, he knows the matter isn’t entirely in his hands.
“If the Lord provides us with a more permanent place, we’d look into it,” he said.