Churches to Empty Pews During NATO | NBC Chicago

Complete coverage of the Chicago NATO Summit

Churches to Empty Pews During NATO

NATO Summit is May 20 & 21 in Chicago



    (Published Tuesday, May 8, 2012)

    At least two churches in the shadows of McCormick Place have made plans to amend service plans during the upcoming NATO Summit.

    Among them is the Quinn Chapel African Methodist Episcopal Church, which is certainly no stranger to social activism. Its pulpit has been visited by luminaries ranging from Frederick Douglass to Susan B. Anthony to Martin Luther King.

    But it's difficult to hold services when congregants can't even reach their place of worship.

    "There are going to be traffic jams. There is going to be heightened security. It will take a couple of hours just to get to this building. So why put our congregants through that?" said Pastor James Moody.

    Moody said services for Sunday, May 20 have moved to the Wabash YMCA near East 37th Street and South Wabash Avenue.

    Likewise, Second Presbyterian on South Michigan Avenue has opted to close its doors, telling parishioners to attend services at a sister church on the south side.

    Old St. Mary's Church will close its school on Monday, May 21, conducting classes electronically from students' homes.

    "It's really logistics of getting the kids here and parents here. A lot of them work in the loop so they just can't get here. And also emergency vehicles; we have to look at the safety of kids," said Old St. Mary's Assistant Principal Cathy Hart.

    Old St. Mary's Church, however, Chicago's oldest congregation, will be open NATO weekend. After all, said Fr. Mike Kallock, they watch the marathon run by every year, and he is stepping out on faith that even with thousands of demonstrators parading by the building will be secure.

    "What little I've heard is that there's no evidence from past demonstrations at NATO where they've vandalized churches," he said.