Religion Beat: Albany Park

By Jake Howell
Albany Park is incredibly diverse—in fact, it is “the city’s most ethnically diverse community!” Therefore, it should not come as a surprise to many that we are also incredibly diverse on the religious spectrum. I’ve spent over three years wandering down Lawrence and Kedzie in trademark Chicago wind, and in my travels I have encountered a person of almost every faith group I have ever heard of: all denominations of Christians, Jews, Muslims, Buddhists, Hindus, Pantheists, Wiccans, Agnostics, and Atheists.

A “yellowbook” search for Albany Park religious organizations (which includes churches, synagogues, mosques, and even basement church gatherings) yields over 7,000 results, just to give a rough estimate of how plugged in residents are to religion in the community.

Acknowledging the intensely diverse nature of Albany Park religion, an obvious, lingering question would be—how well are they all coexisting? In the search for this question, I stumbled across an Everyblock advertisement which read: “Spiritual Beans – Interfaith Discussion Group.”

Hosted by Treasures of Uptown, an ‘interfaith action coalition,” the group met on Oct. 27 to discuss the link between religion and politics. “When we talk about the separation of church and state, what does that really mean? Can you leave your faith behind when you go to the polls? Should you?” questioned the Everyblock poster, Seth. “With the next presidential election upon us, let’s take on a taboo topic and talk politics!”

Treasures of Uptown hosts an interfaith discussion every month at Inspiration Kitchens, an Uptown restaurant dedicated to providing “essential social services to Chicagoans hardest hit by homelessness and poverty,” making it an ideal place to host an event such as this, considering that a primary goal of Treasures of Uptown is to foster “programs and activities that provide active care to people in Uptown.”

Other primary goals of the organization are to “build relationships among people of various faiths and philosophies, to learn from and listen to one another, and to heal prejudicial divisiveness.” How wonderfully admirable, that in one of the most diverse neighborhoods in the world, a group of people have made it their goal to come together and foster intelligent growth and conversation.

It is organizations like Treasures of Uptown that give this cynic hope for the future of this neighborhood, this city, and, I guess ultimately the human race as a whole.

Source List:

–          ‘’Yellowbook’’— http://www.yellowbook.com

  • Tel: 1-800-YB-YELLOW

–          ‘’Treasures of Uptown: An Interfaith Action Coalition’’— http://www.treasuresofuptown.org

–          Albany Park Chamber of Commerce— http://www.albanyparkchamber.org/

–          ‘’Inspiration Kitchens’’— http://inspirationkitchens.org/

  • 4715 North Sheridan Rd. Chicago, IL 60640
    Tel: (773) 275-0626

–          ‘’Everyblock’’— http://chicago.everyblock.com/

—Treasures Advertisement Poster ‘Seth’ profile: http://chicago.everyblock.com/users/47303/

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About North Park Journalism Course

This blog is a place for NPU journalism students to post stories based on their specific beats in Albany Park: Crime, Arts and Entertainment, Business and Politics, etc. Posts should be free of spelling and grammar errors and accurate in all facts and content.
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One Response to Religion Beat: Albany Park

  1. Hey Jake,

    I think your angle of how well residents of various beliefs coexist in Albany Park, is strong and that posing the question of how leaves readers wanting more. It’s great that you were able to find an interfaith group. One thing to consider about the interfaith group, though — it primarily seems to serve the uptown community, which is considered to be in community area 3 of Chicago. (http://www.encyclopedia.chicagohistory.org/pages/1293.html) Albany Park is a couple of community areas to the west, in area 14. (http://www.encyclopedia.chicagohistory.org/pages/36.html)
    If it sounds like many members of the Albany Park community are a part of this group, then it will certainly be relevant to our neighborhood. If this is that case, I think that listing the kinds of believers who are members of the group would help give readers a sense of the gap this group aims to bridge. If you’re able to (once you’re feeling better) interview members of the group or attend a couple of the meetings and get some personal experiences to add to your post, I think it’ll be really enlightening. Nice job.

    -Kia

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