Chicago

Chicago holds a special place in the history of the world’s religions in America. It was here, in 1893, that the World’s Parliament of Religions took place as part of the great Chicago World’s Fair. It was inspired by the energy, growth, and optimism of an America just beginning to lay claim to a place in the world of nations. The Parliament planning committee sent out 10,000 invitations to people around the world, and representatives of many of the world’s great religious traditions converged on Chicago. It was the first time that Hindus, Buddhists, Christians and Jews met together on American soil to speak of their faith with one another. As the Chairman of the Parliament, PresbyterianPresbyterian is the general name for churches governed by elected presbyters or elders and refers especially to Reformed churches in Scotland and England that shaped Presbyterian churches worldwide. The church is distinguished both from those in which aut... ministerMinister is a general term for a member of the clergy in the Christian church. The term has also come to use in other religious traditions to designate a member of the clergy (as in the Jodo Shinshu tradition and the Nation of Islam). John Henry Barrows, later wrote, “It was felt to be wise and advantageous that the religions of the world, which are competing at so many points in all the continents, should be brought together not for contention but for loving conference, in one room.” And so they did during seventeen days of meetings and speeches in Chicago.

One hundred years later, in 1993, Chicago again convened a Parliament of the World’s Religions. This time, however, those who had previously been invited as guests were now among the hosts. There were Hindu, Buddhist, Muslim, and SikhSikhs call their tradition the “Sikh Panth,” meaning the “community (panth) of the disciples of the Guru.” The tradition reveres a lineage of ten Gurus, beginning with Guru Nanak in the 16th century and coming to a clos. with the death of Guru Gob... committees, working alongside ProtestantsProtestant is a term used for the range of reform movements that broke with the Roman Catholic Church during the period called the Reformation. There are many branches of Protestantism, including the Lutherans, Anabaptists, Anglicans, Methodists, Baptists..., Catholics, OrthodoxIn general, orthodox means having a “correct opinion or outlook” and is a term used by people in many religions who claim authority for traditional views and forms of their religion. Christians, and Jews to plan the centennial event. By 1993, Chicago had truly become a multireligious city. The local committees that convened to plan the centennial were far more diverse than the original Parliament had been. When more than seven thousand people assembled for the Parliament, it was the first clear public manifestation of the new religious reality of Chicago—and of America.

A good many of the Muslims who participated in the Parliament came from the many mosquesMasjid (plural masajid) in Arabic means “place of prostration,” or the place where Muslims bow in prayer; in English, this word has become “mosque.” A masjid contains a prayer hall in which there is a mihrab or prayer niche, and a minbar or pulpit... of the Chicago area (the number now exceeds ninety). One of the oldest Muslim communities here is Bosnian, which has a strong presence at the Islamic Cultural Center of Greater Chicago in Northbrook. Other Muslim immigrants, primarily from India and Pakistan, converted an old movie theater into the Muslim Community Center. In the western suburb of Bridgeview, almost 700 Pre-kindergarten–12th Grade Muslim students study daily at the Universal School, one of the largest Islamic schools in North America. In Lakeview, close to the shore of Lake Michigan, college students study at American Islamic College, the first Islamic University in the United States. On the city’s South Side, one finds more than twenty predominantly African-American Islamic centersAn Islamic center will typically include a mosque, school, and area for social and cultural activities. When a new Islamic center is being organized in the United States, attention is paid to community needs, including a weekend or full-time school, indic... and MosqueMasjid (plural masajid) in Arabic means “place of prostration,” or the place where Muslims bow in prayer; in English, this word has become “mosque.” A masjid contains a prayer hall in which there is a mihrab or prayer niche, and a minbar or pulpit... MaryamMary was the mother of Jesus and, as such, has a special place in the affection and devotion of Christians. The Gospels of Luke and Matthew speak of her as a Virgin who conceived Jesus by the grace of the Holy Spirit. Devotion to the Virgin Mary, also cal..., the headquarters and National Center for the Nation of IslamIslam in Arabic literally means “submitting” or “submission.” One who submits or surrenders his or her will to God is called a Muslim. While the whole of God’s creation is described as being inherently Muslim, human beings must choose whether to....

Chicago’s many thousands of Hindus worship in several Hindu templesA Hindu temple will be called a mandir in northern parts of India or a koyil in the south. There are many styles of temples and temple-complexes, but most temples are laid out according to precise dimensions and proportions and erected to be the symbolic ..., including two massive templesA temple is a house of worship, a sacred space housing the deity or central symbol of the tradition. The Temple in Jerusalem was the holy place of the Jewish people until its destruction by the Romans in 70 CE; now the term “temple” is used by th. Ref... built from the ground up in the suburbs of Aurora and Lemont. At least seventy-five Buddhist templesBuddhist temples differ considerably from one another depending upon culture and particular school, but most are associated with the residence of the sangha of monks. Theravada temples focus on one or more images of Sakyamuni Buddha. In Mahayana and Vajra... and communities from the Chicago area have joined the Buddhist Council of the Midwest. These include a Japanese Jodo ShinshuThe Jodo Shinshu or True Pure Land school of Buddhism was founded by the Japanese monk Shinran Shonin in the 12th century. This tradition regards chanting the name of Amida Buddha as the most appropriate form of practice in the current degenerate age. Tod... templeA temple is a house of worship, a sacred space housing the deity or central symbol of the tradition. The Temple in Jerusalem was the holy place of the Jewish people until its destruction by the Romans in 70 CE; now the term “temple” is used by th. Ref..., a Korean Buddhist templeBuddhist temples differ considerably from one another depending upon culture and particular school, but most are associated with the residence of the sangha of monks. Theravada temples focus on one or more images of Sakyamuni Buddha. In Mahayana and Vajra..., the Burmese Buddhist Association, the Thai WatA wat (Thai) or watt (Cambodian) is a Buddhist temple-monastic complex. Thai and Cambodian temples typically have two sections, one in which both monks and laity worship the Buddha, and the other reserved for the monastic community. The former typically i... Dhammaram, Cambodian, Vietnamese, Laotian, and Tibetan Buddhist communities, and homegrown American Zen communities. The Baha’i faith has its U.S. headquarters at its beautiful landmark temple in Wilmette, north of Chicago. The SikhsSikhs call their tradition the “Sikh Panth,” meaning the “community (panth) of the disciples of the Guru.” The tradition reveres a lineage of ten Gurus, beginning with Guru Nanak in the 16th century and coming to a clos. with the death of Guru Gob... have built a striking gurdwaraThe gurdwara, “the gateway of the Guru,” is the place for community gathering and worship in the Sikh tradition. The Guru is the Adi Granth, the sacred scripture of the Sikh tradition. Each center will include a chamber where the Adi Granth is kept, a..., spread over fourteen acres of land, in the suburb of Palatine. In 2013, the Jains of the Chicago area celebrated the twentieth anniversary of their temple in Bartlett. ParsisParsis are Zoroastrians originally from the Iranian region of Pars who came to India, having fled religious persecution in Iran. Owing to centuries of separation, present-day Parsis and Iranian Zoroastrians often speak different languages, and may follow ..., originally from the Indian subcontinent, and Iranian ZoroastriansOriginating with the teachings of the Prophet Zarathushtra in the second millennium BCE, the ancient faith of Zoroastrianism is referred to as “the Good Religion” in the sacred texts. Zoroastrians are encouraged to live out their faith through the pra... come together at the ZoroastrianOriginating with the teachings of the Prophet Zarathushtra in the second millennium BCE, the ancient faith of Zoroastrianism is referred to as “the Good Religion” in the sacred texts. Zoroastrians are encouraged to live out their faith through the pra... Association of MetropolitanA Metropolitan is the title given to a bishop, used especially in the Orthodox family of churches today. Chicago in the Burr Ridge suburb.

The churchesThe term church has come to wide use to refer to the organized and gathered religious community. In the Christian tradition, church refers to the organic, interdependent “body” of Christ’s followers, the community of Christians. Secondarily, church ... of Chicago also reflect the changing landscape of the United States. Chicago Mar Thoma ChurchThe term church has come to wide use to refer to the organized and gathered religious community. In the Christian tradition, church refers to the organic, interdependent “body” of Christ’s followers, the community of Christians. Secondarily, church ..., on the north side of Chicago, is home to many South Indian Christian families. The congregation of Emmanuel United MethodistThe Methodist church is a Protestant communion of churches which began in England with John Wesley (1703-91) and has become a worldwide movement. In the U.S., the United Methodist Church—one of the largest Protestant denominations—is known for its str... Church was largely Scandinavian in the early 1900s, and now has a congregation made up of members from Jamaica, Guyana, Trinidad, India, Pakistan, and Puerto Rico. Neighborhood parishesA parish is the geographical neighborhood or area served by a church or pastor. like St. MaryMary was the mother of Jesus and, as such, has a special place in the affection and devotion of Christians. The Gospels of Luke and Matthew speak of her as a Virgin who conceived Jesus by the grace of the Holy Spirit. Devotion to the Virgin Mary, also cal... of the AngelsAngels are a class of supernatural or spiritual beings, imaginatively understood to perform various functions on God’s behalf. Angels are especially described as divine messengers. Angels are common to Zoroastrianism, Judaism, Christianity and Islam. in Bucktown offer services in English, Polish, and Spanish. The suburbs have seen the growth of non-denominational mega churches, such as Willow Creek Community Church, which averages over 20,000 attendees weekly.

Interfaith networks and initiatives have also flourished in Chicago. Interfaith Youth Core (IFYC), one of the most well known interfaith organizations in the country, encourages interfaith cooperation through the Better Together Campaign, Interfaith Leadership Institutes, and Campus Partnerships. The Chicago Interfaith Family School provides Catholic and Jewish education to interreligious families. Other interfaith organizations address key social issues: Interfaith House works with an interfaith model to aid ill and injured homeless adults in the Chicago area and Interfaith Worker Justice engages diverse faith communities to advance the rights of workers.

In 1893, the world came to visit Chicago, bringing with it religious traditions unimaginable to many of the city’s residents. Today, thanks to new immigration post-1965, that same city has become a home to the world and religious diversity is now a given in the Windy City whose legacy of hospitality continues to serve it well. 


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