OUR CHURCH'S HISTORY
First United Methodist Church of Oak Park was the first established congregation to settle in the Oak Park area. Established in 1870, the congregation worshiped in a small one room school house. Under the name of the First Methodist Episcopal Church of Oak Park, a church was erected on Lake Street, near Forest Avenue, which opened for worship in 1874. The church grew and flourished and, anticipating the need for expansion, purchased the land for our present site in the early 1920’s. Plans for the new church building were being developed when the old church was destroyed by fire in 1923. Built between 1923 and 1925, our current church building was dedicated in March of 1925. Our history is rich with a tradition of meaningful Christian ministry in our congregation, community, and for those in need. We carry forward the spirit of the past while we meet the spiritual needs of today’s people.
Our historic church building was designed by Tallmadge and Watson in the modern English Gothic Revival style. Built with Bedford limestone, the building features a Memorial Tower and Memorial Chapel. Designated an Oak Park Historic Landmark in 2005, the design and the blueprints of the church are preserved at the Art Institute of Chicago. Recent renovations have been made to maintain and enhance the building’s original features.
The stained-glass windows, designed by Giannini and Hilgart, were installed in the sanctuary as memorial gifts between 1957 and 1966. The windows depict Jesus’ life and ministry, his apostles, and Old Testament prophets.
That was the first chapter of our history. The second chapter in this congregation included being the host for conversations on missions and justice that led the church out in caring concern for the world.
Our most recent chapter includes a stronger commitment to ministry with children and youth of our church and community, as well as cooperative ministries with the other United Methodist Churches of our cluster and church partners of other denominations. The Lenten conversations on Race & Justice with our cluster United Methodist Churches provided us with new opportunities to learn and grow, repent and act for justice. We are a weekly PADS site and are committed to supporting Housing Forward with their efforts to provide a safety net for those in need of housing and shelter. We are very pleased with the incredible experience offered to children of the community through our cooperative Peace Camp, in partnership with St. Christopher's Episcopal Church.
Our next chapter is still to be written. But our core values of serving others, working for justice, and growing in faith are sure to be a part of it! Come and help us write the next chapter of our service of God and God's people in our community!