As populations change, two Franklin Park churches come together
From left, Adam Obrzat and Alex Nugent take part in the Sunday school class held at Resurrection Lutheran Church. | Jerry Daliege~for Sun-Times Media
Updated: December 16, 2012 6:22AM
FRANKLIN PARK — Two Lutheran congregations in Franklin Park plan to deepen their connection in the coming months.
This week, Resurrection Lutheran Church and Iglesia San Jose combined their Sunday school program. Starting in 2013, the two congregations will hold four common and bilingual services a year.
The two congregations also plan to share a single pastor: Rev. Carlos Ortiz, who has led Iglesia San Jose for the last four years.
“We’re taking the experience of one congregation and the youth of the other one,” Ortiz said. “Both churches are going to maintain their identity. It’s like being a brother and sister in the same family.”
Iglesia San Jose began 18 years ago to serve Franklin Park’s growing Latino population. The majority of its roughly 100 members started out as practicing Roman Catholics, but shifted to Lutheran, Ortiz said. Its members are generally younger and have more children.
Since it’s beginning, the congregation has shared the church at 9920 Grand Ave. with the Resurrection Lutheran congregation. Resurrection Lutheran was organized in 1944 and met in the basement of one its founding members until 1964, when the first part of its church was constructed.
Over the decades, the building has twice expanded. Now it takes up an entire block between Hawthorne Street and Elder Lane.
But as with many mainstream Christian denominations, its membership has shrunk. Membership is officially at 268 though “our attendance, if we’re lucky, is 60 on Sunday,” Church Administrator Linda Andrade said.
The congregation is generally older and is mostly of European descent. Some of its members are second, third and even fourth generation. It offered pre-school for 20 years, but as the number of children dwindled, it stopped.
The two congregations will continue to hold separate services most Sundays, 9:30 a.m. for Resurrection Lutheran and noon for Iglesia San Jose.
Andrade sees two challenges to the partial merge. First, many members of Iglesia San Jose only speak Spanish, while Resurrection Lutheran members generally only speak English.
“It’s also a challenge for people to break out of their comfort zone,” Andrade said. “We’re always going to have people who don’t rock the boat.”
But a little rocking is called for, Andrade said.
“If you don’t try to change anything in life, you don’t grow,” she said.