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Historic Logan Boulevard Church Closing, Last Service Set For Sunday

By Paul Biasco | May 24, 2016 6:23am | Updated on May 24, 2016 10:14am
 The Episcopal Church of the Advent in Logan Square is closing.
Episcopal Church of the Advent
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LOGAN SQUARE — One of the oldest congregations in Logan Square is closing its doors due to money issues and a shrinking group of churchgoers.

The Episcopal Church of the Advent, which is housed in a historic structure on Logan Boulevard, has not been able to fight off funding issues and a dwindling congregation.

The 115-year-old congregation is hosting its last service Sunday at 10 a.m.

"It's just not sustainable," said Tim Van Alstyne, the warden of the church.

The congregation is known for being LGBT-friendly.

"It's particularly sad because we are one of the last LGBT-friendly churches on the boulevard," Van Alstyne said.

There are only about 20 people that make up the core of the congregation. At its peak, Van Alstyne said there were hundreds of members.

"It’s a small but beautiful congregation and it consists of people who are older, people who are younger. ... It's an incredibly diverse and loving congregation," Van Alstyne said.

One of the main reasons the church is being forced to close is the recent departure of Nuestra Señora de las Américas, which had been sharing the church space at 2900 W. Logan Blvd. and covering half of the bills.

Nuestra Señora de las Américas, the oldest Latino congregation in the Episcopal Diocese of Chicago, moved to its new location along with St. Luke's in December at 2837 W. Armitage Ave.

The congregation had begun relying on renting parts of the church out to different organizations to help cover expenses, but the diocese voted to force it to end that practice last week, according to Todd Van Alstyne, treasurer of the congregation and a trustee for the diocese.

Todd Van Alstyne said the congregation has been receiving complaints from neighbors for years due to the homeless ministries run out of the Logan Square church.

"The diocese office has gotten calls almost every day because there were homeless people hanging around the church," Todd Van Alstyne said. "We did that unashamedly and happily.”

The church was founded at Temple Hall, 430 W. Fullerton Ave., in 1901 and moved into its current location on the boulevard in 1906.

The church bought the lot for $10,500 at the time and the choirmaster at the time, the architect Elmer C. Jensen, designed the building.

Jensen was a member of the architectural firm Jensen and Halsted, which was founded by William Le Baron Jenney, who is known for designing and engineering the first skyscraper in 1884.

"This is a noted architect who designed this building and it wasn't just another commission for Elmer Jensen," said Andrew Schneider, president of Logan Square Preservation. "This was his faith home, so he built the church to last. This is a very fine structure and it's held down a corner of our landmark district on Logan Boulevard."

The Bishop & Trustees of the Diocese of Chicago, a group of elected leaders that manages the property of the diocese, will meet later this summer to discuss the future of the Logan Square church, according to a spokeswoman for the diocese. 

In the meantime, the diocese will manage the upkeep of the building and property.

Todd Van Alstyne said the congregation will keep control of the church, which is owned by the diocese, until June 30.

"We are hoping another faith community is able to purchase it," he said.

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