As is our tradition, our church family created a moving "float" to walk in the Memorial Day Parade in Norwood Park. Everyone wore safari-themed gear and hats and walked alongside our bright green jeep handing out candy and invitational fllyers for Vacation Bible Camp!
It was our first year to host a Norwood Park community egg hunt & field day and the event was wildly successful! We expected about 500 people and had over 1,500 people in attendance! The day included an egg hunt, carnival tents with all sorts of games and prizes, photos with the bunny, fresh popcorn, field games and more!
Thanks to our additional sponsors:
*Norwood Park Historical Society
*Norwood Park Chamber of Commerce
*Sprout Pediatric Dentistry!
This year's event drew many chefs to compete in the chili competition, including 13-year old Raven, daughter of last year's reigning champion. Each chef decided what style of chili to make, some baked overnight, and then brought in boiling croc pots full of delicious chili! Judging happened secretly, so when all of us flooded into the Fellowship Hall after the morning service, we were presented with the amazing aromas but had no idea who the winner was. As is our custom, we begin eating and allow everyone to sample the winning chili without knowing who it belongs to. This year so many people brought potluck sides for our lunch: cornbread, pasta, salads, fruit, and desserts (THANKS!). Judy R., representing the judges, announced newcomer Michelle H. as the new winner of the chili competition! She was awarded with her prize and given much congratulations. No one was more proud that her little baby son A.J.! The rest of the afternoon was spent playing dominoes, bunco, and other games in Fellowship Hall's Game Room, crafting for the kids, and a spirited team round of 9-square-in-the-air in the Gym. Congrats to the blue team on your win! A great time was had by all, and murmurs of people's plans to adjust their chili recipe for next year, or to join for the first time, were heard in the halls. Thanks to everyone who makes our events fun and joyful! It's great being part of such an amazing church family!
This year we hosted our first-ever Trunk or Treat event! We got permission from the city of Chicago to close down Navarre Ave. and fill it with themed cars, s'mores station and fire pit, tents filled with games and prizes and lots of candy. We met so many of the neighborhood kids and families. Thanks to each person who donated items! Thanks to everyone who hosted a themed trunk and greeted each child with such joy.
Check out all of the pictures by clicking here.
During the week of June 18-22 our church building turned into a "Shipwrecked" themed wonderland for kids ages 3- 5th grade. The kitchen hallway became an under-the-sea experience. The Fellowship Hall turned into a beach with tiki huts. The old nursery became the reflective space to consider the cross. The conference room became a film studio. And our Sanctuary became the edge of a deserted island. Shane and Matt, along with an ensemble of middle school students, brought the story to life as kids were presented with the idea that God is with them no matter what comes in life, that he is a lighthouse in their dark times, and that he will always save them when they cry out. Thanks for all of our amazing volunteers!
Over past school year our church building as seen a lot of change! Thanks for our amazing Team Leader Dick Greenman, and his steady volunteer crew, plus many donated hours by almost every member of the church, together we have renovated the Fellowship Hall, the main hallway, moved the Infant and Pre-school room into a brand-new room, and have remodeled both main restrooms! Phew! THANK YOU!!
On Saturday, January 20th, nine teams, totaling around 60 people gathered in the church sanctuary for an exciting night of Trivia. Pastor Steve prepared well for the competition as the questions he created were challenging and fun to answer. With categories such as, “The Four Seasons,” “Biblical Names,” “History,” and “Literature,” everyone was able to contribute an answer or two around their table. All teams played six rounds and in between each round there was conversation, snacks and a little heckling between teams. It was a close game, but in the end only one team could take the first place, and “The Ramones,” who never dropped out of the lead, were the winners. Led by baby Ramon, this team stayed quick and confident and walked away with the first place prize. Thank you to Megan who coordinated the event, and Pastor Steve and his wife Kellye who emceed the event with a combination of humor and wit that kept the evening filled with laughter. We hope to see you at the next event!
It was obvious to anyone who entered the church on Sunday, December 17th that it is Christmas time, as many people sported their favorite “ugly Christmas sweater” and other festive holiday clothing. The service began with Christmas songs and hymns led by Sam Tinken, a guest worship leader and friend of Pastor Steve's, and included a special performance by the Awana students led by Eileen Carter and Margie Z. Having the children on stage brought much joy to the church family as they clapped along and snapped pictures. The sermon followed with a message of “The Promise” as we reflected on the preparation God made for Jesus Christ to be born. After the service the party commenced with food, music, art and activities. Kathy Payne and the cafe team provided a generous spread of cookies, cakes, coffee and other snacks. As people tasted their treats they were able to view a beautiful art gallery which was comprised of student work from Awana and Jr High Take-Over Ministry art classes over the past semester. Many thanks to Jenny Scott and her new ministry “Created to Create,” which encourages students to tap into their creativity and have the courage to create something unique and inspiring. Megan Ferrier the Social Events Coordinator continued the spirit of creativity with a cookie decorating station for the children and parents. The sprinkles and frosting were flowing as many little participants were eager to take part in the fun. The big leagues of cookie decorating, however, fell into the hands of the brave individuals who dared to compete against Pastor Steve in the main event: the Cookie Decorating Contest. Several individuals entered their best attempt at a winning cookie creation, and voting was intense as people pondered over which entry would receive their ballot. In the end the win went to Pastor Adaline for her impressive 3D model of “Sweet Home Chicago”, in all of its cookie glory. Throughout the celebration people migrated over to the photo booth complete with a backdrop and Christmas themed props to spruce up the scene. Thank you to Faith O’Leary who used her photography talents to capture the smiling faces of family and friends as they celebrated fellowship and most importantly the upcoming birth of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. Merry Christmas to all and have a happy New Year!
See photos of the event by clicking here.
On Sunday, December 3rd almost sixty people from our church and community gathered together to learn more about depression. With the holidays coming up, it's a critical time for us to understand this health issue that affects so many people. Counselor Jon Noto from Whitestone Christian Counseling Resources spent time explaining what depression is and de-bunking some of the myths surrounding it. He provided ways for all of us to think about depression and gave ideas on how we can help those we care about who struggle with it. Thanks to everyone who came out! If you have ideas for additional seminars that would benefit the community please email Pastor Jen.
On Sunday, November 26th WCCC celebrated Baptism as three individuals gave their testimonies and publicly professed their faith in Christ. The congregation eagerly turned their seats towards the baptismal as Pastor Steve discussed the meaning of baptism and then introduced the first candidate, Gordon O’Leary. Gordon gave a sincere and heartfelt testimony as he highlighted God’s grace in his life during the tough times. His family stood watching as he proclaimed his faith in Christ. Next, Pat Catalano humbly credited his daughter for encouraging him to attend church and praised God for giving him strength during moments of uncertainty. Lastly, an eager and energetic Isabella Salas decided just moments before that God was calling her to baptism, and she allowed God to move her as she took a step towards a deeper faith life. Pastor Steve prayed for each of these candidates and then immersed them in water as a symbol of dying to their old self and being reborn in Christ. It is always an honor to witness one of these services and let us not forget to continue praying for these individuals and everyone who is a part of the church family at WCCC.
Operation Christmas Child is a project of Samaritan’s purse and has been delivering shoeboxes to over 146 million children in more than 100 countries since 1990, and Windy City Community church has been participating for almost 20 years. The late Harriet Hicks, wife of WCCC member Ray Hicks, packed her first shoebox in 1999 and her passion for the organization continued to grow. Harriet’s example inspired church members such as Tracy Fiddler to come alongside her and continue the program after Harriet passed away in 2009.
This year the WCCC Operation Christmas Child committee included Tracy Fiddler, Karen Parker, Miriam Rivera, and Judy Rustemeyer. The planning begins as early as September. This year the Parker-Fiddler life group hosted a packing party on October 24th which was attended by about 30 people who packed 93 shoeboxes in 45 minutes. Other life groups also hosted packing parties this year, and many members of the church community stepped up and contributed to the cause. This resulted in donating the largest number of shoeboxes as a church since the beginning of its involvement in the program. A total of 210 shoeboxes were packed and delivered by Judy Rustemeyer and Bobby Z. to a drop off location on November 19th. All shoe boxes from the Chicago area are then shipped to a warehouse in Minneapolis where they are reviewed and labeled. After a three week period about 12 million boxes each year are sent out over 100 countries, and sometimes even delivered in the states to an area that has seen a crisis or disaster.
The amazing thing about these boxes is not only the blessing it is for a child to receive their very own toothbrush or washcloth, but also the message that is included. Each shoe box includes a piece of Christian literature in the language according to its destination. Because of this many children are exposed to the gospel and the name of Jesus for the first time. In addition, every child who receives a box has the opportunity to take part in a class sponsored by Samaritan’s Purse titled, “The Greatest Journey” where they will learn more about the good news. This organization has blessed millions of children over the years and Windy City is proud to contribute to this cause. As Tracy Fiddler humbly stated, “It is a blessing when you can put together 15 items in a box and send it to the other side of the world, knowing that it is blessing a child, and through that gift they can find out about Jesus Christ”. THANK YOU TO EVERYONE WHO CONTRIBUTED!!!
On November 5th, Windy City celebrated it's 30th Anniversary! The service honored the influence that the inception of the church has had on so many of us, through the stories of a few of its members. Pastor Steve donned a celebratory tuxedo as he introduced five different people who shared how WCCC has touched their lives in different ways. Rachael Boblett, the self proclaimed, “first baby of the church” spoke candidly about growing up as a “typical church kid” and how the church and its members helped to grow her into the mature Christian woman she is today. Next, Nancy Volpert shared her journey and how WCCC is responsible for forging together a family that continues to grow and thrive as children of God. Her sweet love story is more evidence of the power of God through church community. Chris Kocourek followed with the story of his inspirational fight against cancer. Chris gives all the glory to God, but also acknowledges the role that WCCC and his church family played in keeping and strengthening his faith and witness strong throughout the storm. A bubbly Sandy Lyman kept the momentum going by sharing that she was drawn to the church community by attending the annual block party. She mentioned how fellowship with members of WCCC and ministries such as the food pantry drew her and her husband close to God and eventually led them both to accepting Jesus Christ as their Savior. Brian Glover ended by sharing a recent personal experience that reminded him that God is alive and working in our lives in ways that we might not expect. His message on the power of prayer demonstrated one of the strengths of the church community as it continues to support one another. Each member of the church family illustrated how WCCC has impacted their lives and influenced their walk with Christ. After the service the celebration continued with coffee, conversation and over 23 sweet treats that were made by members of the congregation.There is no doubt that God has done amazing things in the last thirty years, and we are confident that his work is not finished. We truly have A GREAT GOD, and look forward to many more years of blessings, growth and fellowship among the people and community of WCCC.
On Sunday, October 29th, WCCC celebrated child dedications, a day that is very important to the church community. This ceremony is intended to be a public proclamation by parents and caregivers to raise their children to know Jesus. It is also an invitation for the church to come alongside these families and support their faith journey. Families that participated included Meda and Betsy Lopez, who dedicated their 7 month old son Ramon. This bubbly baby boy was all smiles as Pastor Steve lifted him up in front of the congregation. The next child dedicated was Isabelle O’Leary. Three year old Izzy stood lovingly surrounded by her mother Kate O'Leary, eight siblings and proud sister-in law. The O’Leary family was followed by Cassidy and Lila Osborne, nieces of worship leader Stacey Torres. Through prayer, the church accepted responsibility to play a role in shaping the faith of these two precious girls. Finally, a confident four year old named Peyton Mattes marched up the stage, followed by her two year old sister Dakota and 8 month old brother Hunter. This family was raised up in prayer as their mother Kim Mattes reverently bowed her head. It was clear to all who witnessed this event that each family has a sincere love for Christ and a desire to encourage their children to seek after Him. Let us not forget to pray for these families, as we have been called to play a role in influencing these young lives. We look forward to witnessing the spiritual growth of these families as they continue to be a part of the WCCC family. (Click here to see more photos from the day).