One of the treats of living in Chicago during the 1990s was that I got to be surrounded by some stunning architecture. From the bridges to the parks to the monumental museums, there was inspiring work all around.
I was a member of the First United Methodist Church during my time in that city, and I've told people since then that that church ruined me for other churches. If I don't explain, they might get the wrong idea, thinking that the church was a bad influence or terrible experience. In fact, between the friendly, diverse congregation and the wonderful pastors (led by the incomparable and now-retired Dr. Eugene H. Winkler – still the best preacher I've ever had the pleasure of hearing), First Church simply set the bar too high for any other church to meet, as far as I'm concerned.
Today, I certainly wouldn't pass a litmus test for believers, but if I lived in Chicago, I'd still be a member of this wonderful church. It is located in a historic skyscraper in the heart of the Loop (if you've seen Blues Brothers, the church is briefly visible at the very end in a scene of various police cars converging on City Hall) and is an architectural marvel. The building itself is called the Chicago Temple (which leads some people to assume the congregation is Jewish, then they get confused with the Methodist Church bit) and it is the oldest congregation of any faith in Chicago. It's even in the Guinness Book of World Records as the tallest church in the world.
Sorry. I could go on and on, because I have too many great memories of my time at the Chicago Temple. The memories were spurred by a Facebook post by the Temple that the building will be featured tonight (November 29) at 7:30 pm Central time on Chicago station WTTW. Below is a short video excerpt that will give you a taste of the WTTW program and of the building.
(If the video below doesn't work, you can see it on WTTW's website.)