News in 2019

First Sunday starts 6 October

Starting in October, UCRP will begin our First Sunday program.  We know that life is busy and not everyone can commit to church every week.  We’re asking that if you can only commit to one Sunday a month, please make it the first Sunday of the month!


 On First Sunday, we will have three Children’s Classes for ages 0-5, 6-10, and 11-13. Our two younger classes [0-5, 6-10] will focus on Christ-Centered Creativity, an opportunity for children to explore the Scriptures through music, art, food, and play.  Our team of educators will encourage children to approach Bible passages from different directions through a variety of active learning techniques in order to grow in the understanding of God’s Word and how we can apply that understanding to our lives today.  

 The older class [11-13] will focus on a story-based curriculum to help them understand the Bible better through discussion and interactive media.  For more information, please contact the church office at

 There will also be a time of fellowship after each First Sunday whether that will be a learning experience, potluck, or social justice action. 

Please make n effort to be there for our kick-off Sunday 6 October and for the first Sundays of the month after that.

Community Feast 35th anniversary celebration!

UCRP will celebrate 35 years of Community Feast, honoring the volunteers who show up week after week, month after month for over 35 years, serving over 182,000 meals!

Join us for service at 10:oo am on Sunday 6 October to celebrate our Community Feast volunteers and the holy work they have done for so many years. We hope to see you there!

Showcase with one of our very own at Art Institute

UCRP’s very own Edvette played a part of the fashion show of the Envisioning Justice Initiative. Putting on this showing is Illinois Humanities, a group who exams what it means to be human through all forms of interpretation and expressions. 

Edvette is one of the visual artists on the project.  He captures and help shape the narrative of each event that showcased Circles and Ciphers contributed to this project through his photography.  He also worked closely with the writer to properly narrate the story of each event for the visuals.

 This exhibit is open to the public and runs till 12 October at
Sullivan Galleries at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago
33 South State Street, Chicago
Tuesday through Saturday 11:00 am to 6:00 pm

 For more information: click here


Chili Cook Off

Our Annual Chili Cook Off winner was Jen Schimdt with Layleader Holly Davis. This annual event took place on Saturday 23 March 2019.

Below: 1st, 3nd, and 3rd place winners. Third place was a tie.


Dick Tholin 1929-2019


On Tuesday 12 March, the world lost the strongest, most gentle man of peace and spirit at UCRP - Dick Tholin.

At 90 years, he led a full life dedicated to others through his work in peace and social justice, on the streets and in the church, touching many lives. He led by example and with compassion and powerful words, following footsteps greater than his own on a path of peace. 


His many examples of fighting for justice.  One was as a Freedom Riders who were civil rights activists who rode interstate buses into the segregated southern United States in 1960s to challenge the non-enforcement of the voting and other rights of African-Americans.

He stood by Affirmation: United Methodist for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Concerns from the beginning of this support group.  He and his wife, Phyllis, have supported the Queer community, along with women and people of color’s rights.

Dick is the reason why many are Methodist today.

He was also an athlete and loved the competition in a good game especially tennis and handball.   And he loved Chicago! -its history and its struggles,  along with the Bulls and the Cubs – Afterall,  he was a north-sider. 

He also loved opera; and with that, we say, “Con te partiro’ “  [Italian for “With you I shall leave”].

He will be missed.  

A memorial Service as held on
Saturday 11 May at UCRP at 10:30 am.

After the memorial, the reception was a pot lucking desserts.

New Members
Welcome Dawn-Marie and Isaiah.

On Sunday 10 March, UCRP received two members to our church family. The original date for joining UCRP was on 17 March, but they moved their date up a week as to protest the recent UMC Charge Conference that turned away LGBTQI+ people of faith.

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The following are their testimonies.

Dawn-Marie Hamilton:

I became a regular attender at UCRP because the congregation is such a beautiful reflection of our marvelously diverse neighborhood. I’ve always felt welcomed and spiritually fed by this community. I desired membership in this congregation because of all the good works and community outreach for which UCRP is the catalyst and the center. In my pursuit of membership, I learned some disappointing things about the global United Methodist Church with regard to the acceptance of queer clergy and same-sex marriage. I’ve spent my adult life as an ally for queer rights, and the global Methodist Church’s stance upset me greatly. And then the General Conference took place. I began to question my decision to join a church affiliated with this governing body.

Isaiah Witcher

Isaiah Witcher

My heart ached for all of the people I hold dear who would be adversely affected by the myopic Traditional Plan that was pushed forth. But then my Out and Proud Sibling in Christ, Isaiah Witcher, expressed an interest in becoming a member of UCRP in the shadow of and as a protest to that global decision. I proudly stood with Isaiah last Sunday to affirm my Christian faith and to support all LGBTQIA+ members and clergy of our global Church family. With God’s help, I will raise my voice in support of my siblings in the Church and in the world.

Isaiah Witcher:

I knew I wanted to be a part of this local church, and the Holy Spirit was leading me here. I however felt like the global denomination neglected us in it cowardly way of not moving forward.  I was torn as well on whether to allow my gifts to be used in a church that the global denomination disregarded. But since I knew was lead me here even before that decision, I knew I had to make a stand and do a liturgical protest by formalizing my membership with United Church of Rogers Park.

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In the wake of the ChristChurch white supremacist terror attack, United Church of Rogers Park reaffirms our commitment both to pray for our Muslim siblings and stand and fight against the terrorism of white supremacy as stated in our baptismal and membership vows. We vow to "resist evil, injustice and oppression in whatever form the present themselves." God have mercy on us.

15 March 2019.

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This matter especially hits home because it targeted Muslims abroad, while individuals from our local Muslim community regularly work with United Church on Community Feast and other projects.  Lately, we have been using our baptismal and membership vow to "resist evil, injustice and oppression…”   This is what makes us Methodist.

While this happen on the other side of globe,  this time difference does not matter;  peace-loving New Zealand and indeed the whole world seems to experience growing hate.  As a prominent country, we need to ask what role the United States plays in these developments.  This hatred is spoken by a few Congress members.  As well as our President has had a direct impact on inspiring individuals to commit acts of violence. Trump has also called Mexicans rapists and suggested there were "people that were very fine people, on both sides," in Charlottesville, where white nationalists carried Nazi flags and chanted "Jews will not replace us.” 

Inflammatory language around the so-dubbed caravans of immigrants heading to the southern U.S border, which he has often described as an invasion, is an example of what extremists respond to with action. In Pittsburgh, the man who killed 11 people at the Tree of Life synagogue posted on social media that Jews were bringing in an invasion of nonwhite immigrants and that he couldn't "sit by and watch my people get slaughtered."

It’s time for political leaders to hold the president accountable.

 While we are just one church, UCRP will "resist evil, injustice and oppression in whatever form the present themselves."

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United Church Of Rogers Park Devastated By Anti-LGBTQ Ruling From Methodist Conference — But They’re Not Backing Down

Pastor Lindsey Long Joyce (left) and Pastor Britt Cox (right) are taking a stand against their national denomination and its exclusion of LGBTQ people from marriage and ordination.

Pastor Lindsey Long Joyce (left) and Pastor Britt Cox (right) are taking a stand against their national denomination and its exclusion of LGBTQ people from marriage and ordination.

The small church, along with other progressive churches, is fighting their denomination after a conference of United Methodists voted to exclude LGBTQ people from marriage and ordination.

Jonathan Ballew@JCB_Journo
Click here to see this article on Block Club Chicago website

ROGERS PARK — In a David vs. Goliath battle for a small church in Rogers Park, a new banner hangs outside the church that reads: “We support the full inclusion of LGBTQIA+ and ALWAYS WILL.”

After a conference of United Methodist churches decided to tighten their laws to exclude LGBTQ members from marriage and ordination, the leaders of the United Church of Rogers Park are refusing to back down.

It’s not a new battle, pastor Lindsey Long Joyce said — United Methodist churches have been fighting over the inclusion of LGBTQ members for decades. But last week the issue came to a head at a special conference in St. Louis meant to address the issue once and for all.

Within the church there are two factions, known as the traditionalists and the progressives, Joyce said. Two plans were presented at the conference in St. Louis which hosted United Methodist leaders from around the globe.

The first, called the One Church Plan, would have allowed individual churches to dictate how to handle sexuality within the church, specifically regarding marriage and ordination. The plan was narrowly defeated on Monday.

Instead, the church voted to pass The Traditional Plan in a vote of 438 to 384 — despite several high-ranking members urging the church to reconsider.

Joyce said in her eyes the plan should have been called a “hetero purity plan.”

“Our denomination failed to protect the marginalized people in our churches,” she said. “This plan denies the fullness of who [people are].”

The United Church of Rogers Park held a rally Wednesday for United Methodist church members to come from all over Chicago’s North Side. UCRP member Edvette Jones speaking

The United Church of Rogers Park held a rally Wednesday for United Methodist church members to come from all over Chicago’s North Side. UCRP member Edvette Jones speaking

The United Church of Rogers Park held a rally Wednesday for United Methodist church members to come from all over Chicago’s North Side. UCRP member Edvette Jones speaking

Joyce’s church held a special rally on Wednesday that was attended by other members of several United Methodist churches on the North Side. They allowed visitors to share their feelings and fears following the new decree.

One man shared his experience growing up as a gay black man within the church. He said he had attempted suicide on three separate occasions during his teenage years, but had since found acceptance and community at the United Church of Rogers Park.

Another man said he had only recently felt comfortable coming out as a gay Methodist a few years ago in his mid-fifties. He said the recent decision by the church to exclude LGBTQ members from marriage and ordination felt like a huge set-back.

“This is a place to be mad as hell,” said Pastor Britt Cox on Wednesday from the Church of the Three Crosses in Old Town.

Cox attended the conference in St. Louis and said it is not yet clear how the ruling will affect defiant churches going forward. But there will likely be sanctions on churches and clergy who do not follow the new Traditional Plan.

She said clergy will have to sign a document saying they will not ordain any person who is openly gay. The Traditional Plan also explicitly defines marriage as exclusively between a man and a woman. Cox said clergy will be expected to punish those who do perform wedding ceremonies for LGBTQ people.

“There is a big fear now looming with these increased penalties,” she said.

Joyce said her church is inclusive and representative of the neighborhood. She said LGBTQ people lead from the pulpit, serve on committees and run worship.

“The majority of our leadership team is queer,” she said.

She said her church is hopeful because their region’s bishop, Sally Dyck, supports the inclusion of LGBTQ people.

Dyck said the council of Bishops recommended the more progressive One Church Plan, but no church would have been forced to perform marriages or ordinations.

But the vote came from United Methodist churches from around the globe, many from areas of the world where it is still illegal to identify as LGBTQ.

“I am very disappointed and sad that this happened,” Dyck said. “I will do whatever I can to make sure that we can be as open and welcoming to people in our communities as possible.”

Dyck said what further saddens her is that the ruling communicates to people around the country “offensive judgement” from the United Methodist Church.

“I think it makes it hard to convince people that most of our churches are very welcoming of LGBTQ people and their families,” she said.

Dyck oversees all the United Methodist churches in Chicago and the top third of Illinois. She said she has seen many of her churches “draping everything in rainbow flags.”

One of the mottos of the church is to “do no harm, do good and stay in love with God,” a motto Dyck said she thinks is in contrast with the new regulations against LGBTQ people.

One of the biggest sponsors of the tightened regulations is Rob Renfroe. Renfroe is a pastor based in Texas. He has written books and been one of the most vocal supporters of the Traditional Plan.

Renfroe said the church has had a traditional position on sexual ethics since 1972. Despite the growing backlash, he said that policy has remained the same. But within the last decade, pastors in more progressive churches have broken that covenant.

“If we are one church, we cannot act like we are two,” he said.

Renfroe said he knows this fight is not good for the church but he expects the battle to wage on.

“This has been very hurtful to a great number of people,” he said. “Many LGBTQ people see this as a rejection of who they are, but that’s not what this legislation is about. It’s about holding Bishops accountable.”

He said that traditional United Methodist churches are welcoming to their LGBTQ members.

“We have gays in our churches and they have found us to be very accepting and loving people,” he said.

Renfroe doesn’t expect many of the progressive churches to leave the denomination. He said he expects them to fight for what they believe in.

“This is kind of like the celebrities who say if so-and-so gets elected they’ll move to Canada, but then never do,” he said.

Renfroe said he believes it is in the best interest of both sides to break apart and go their separate ways instead of plunging the church into “a real period of chaos.”

“I understand that people see us as the bad guys,” he said. “We don’t want trials, but we just can’t be part of a church that we believe is encouraging non-biblical practices. I can’t be complicit in a church that is encouraging something in my name that I think is contrary to God’s will.”

Renfroe hopes that both sides can split amicably.

“I want a solution with no winners and no losers, just good people who say I could be wrong, but God bless you, you pursue what you think.”

Joyce said that she has had to reconcile with her own faith after the events of the last week. She expects many members of her church have struggled with similar feelings.

“I have to remember that the denomination is not God,” she said.

While the future of the United Church of Rogers Park’s denomination remains in jeopardy, Joyce said her church will continue to stand their ground.

“If it comes down to the life of this denomination, or the life of our LGBTQ members, we are always going to choose our LGBTQ members,” she said.

Chicago WBEZ radio Listeners:


Pastor Lindsey was featured on "Morning Shift" at 9:00 am Wednesday 6 March.
She talked about how United Church of Rogers Park is open to the LGBTQI community and dissenting the United Methodist denomination's recent stand at its General Conference in St. Louis.
Click here and listen to the record on WBEZ website.
Be sure to click the top red arrow and click WED 3/6 before playing “Morning Shift”.

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Rev. Mary Rawlinson is an ordained Deacon in the United Methodist Church, serving with Family Guidance Centers, Inc. as a counselor with people who are in Methodist Hospital for detox from alcohol or heroin use.

Dynamic collaborative leader in ministry with people and communities experiencing economic and social injustice, illness, and addiction. Experienced in substance abuse counseling, pastoral care, community outreach, preaching and teaching, and prophetic engagement with social justice issues. She loves engaging others in their own unique vocations for the transformation of society toward greater compassion and justice.


She has been in ministry with people experiencing poverty, addiction, homelessness, and those who have been incarcerated, since 2010, at Connections for the Homeless, St. Leonard's Ministries,

The Night Ministry, and Hesed House. As a clergy person whose primary appointment is outside of the church, Mary serves UCRP as her local congregation connection. She received her Master of Divinity degree from Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary and a BA in English from the University of Chicago. Mary lives with her family in Edgewater and also spends as much time as possible caring for her parents in New Jersey. 

Black History in Rogers Park
Pollard Family first blacks in Rogers Park that became fame in the United States

In 1886, John Pollard and his family moved to the small village of Rogers Park in order to escape racial tension in Missouri.  In doing so, they "enjoyed the distinction of being the only [r]ace group in the entire Rogers Park community,” according to a 1937 Chicago Defender article.

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As the only family of color among a sea of white neighbors, they faced significant hurdles. But the Pollards — a family of eight, with African-American, Native-American and French ancestry — distinguished themselves as leaders in sports and business who changed the course of history.  They lived at 1928 W. Lunt Avenue. 

He was born in Virginia in 1846 into a family of free black farmers while the slave trade thrived in the South. Eight years later, fearing that he and his sister would be kidnapped and sold, his mother sent them to Kansas in search of better educational opportunities.

In 1862, John was among the first group of black men to join the Union Army and fight in the Civil War. [John Pollark picture right]


He was determined to attend Oberlin College in Ohio and become a lawyer. However, his quest to obtain a law degree ended when he contracted smallpox. After he recovered, he learned the barber trade from a white man and moved to the town of Mexico, Missouri to apply his trade. It was there that he met his future wife, Catherine Amanda Hughes [1856-1937].  She was described as "an extraordinary strong-willed woman ... ahead of her time."  She was not like most women who only stayed at home, took care of children, and performed domestic chores. She defied the concept of conventional roles society had assigned to her seeking, fulfillment outside of the home, and eventually become a successful seamstress. Not only did she command at work, she managed her priorities at home as well. She kept the family together through her tough love and high expectations.
[picture above : John and Amanda Pollard]

According to family members, Amanda never answered the door without carrying a handgun in her apron pocket. Not only did this speak to her bravery and protective behavior, but also, sadly, to the racial discrimination and prejudice of the time. Looking through family documents it is evident that Amanda played a significant role in the family’s finances. Many tax documents and checks bear her name, which demonstrates her unconventional role as a woman during the 19th Century.

The couple had three children before fleeing the state for the Village of Rogers Park in 1886 [before it was incorporated into Chicago], where they later grew their family to eight.  The Chicago Defender of Sunday 9 October 1937, says on page 2: ”Highly respected, the family enjoyed the distinction of being the only Race group in the entire Rogers Park community.” John set up his barber shop at 7017 East Ravenswood Avenue, which was then in Evanston Township, and Amanda ran a successful seamstress business that included clients like Marshall Field stores.

The Pollards, an education-oriented family, found some reprieve from racial tensions when they left Missouri, but still encountered problems in their new neighborhood.  Despite the family's challenges, the Pollards' achievements and presence in Rogers Park and in Chicago ultimately had a major impact on American sports and culture — though, to many, the Pollard family name has gone unsung.  The Pollard children embarked upon impressive athletic careers, including Olympic and Hall of Fame-level achievements, yet they each faced discrimination and barriers at many steps along the way.

Artissmisia Pollard, the eldest of the children, became Illinois' first black registered nurse, and Naomi, the third child, was one of the first black women to graduate from Northwestern University, according to the historical society.   Being the oldest and having success, Artissmisia put pressure on her siblings to also do well.

luther pollard 1918.jpg

Second born, Luther Pollard [pictured right in 1819] tried to become a professional baseball player after a successful high school athletic career, but was not allowed to play as a person of color. He later started the Ebony Film Corporation, located on California Avenue near Fullerton Avenue, estimated to be worth $500,000 at the time — or about $25 million today. He eventually won an Emmy award for his work in film.

Naomi “Willie” Naomi, the third child of the eight, was one of the first black women to graduate from Northwestern University.  According to family members, she was denied election to Phi Beta Kappa because of her color. Reflecting the high-value of education of her family, she became a school teacher, and then a professor at Wilberforce University in Ohio.

Leslie Pollard, who played at North Division High School [aka Lane Tech High School on Western Avenue]. He later attended Dartmouth College in Hanover, NH where he had a superb football career. He helped break racial barriers in college football. He also played a major role in his little brother Fritz’s successful profession football career. "He was well known in Chicago, probably better known among both races than any other athlete that ever wore a gridiron uniform on the fields of Chicago representing a high school," an obituary for Pollard reads. "His name will long live for his deeds were many."

Ruth Pollard was a star sprinter at Lake View High School before dying at an early age.

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Hughes Pollard [pictured left in 1920], was an outstanding football player, but decided a career as a musician better suited him. This flamboyant gentleman joined the highly popular Chicago jazz group called the Melody Four as a drummer. He performed all over Europe and Australia with the group. Then Hugh joined the French army during WWI. Unfortunately, he died of complications due to a mustard gas attack.

Fritz Pollard.jpg

Frederick Douglass "Fritz" Pollard Sr. [pictured right] was the most known of the Pollard children.  After playing at Albert Grannis Lane Manual Training High School [later the school was known as Lane Tech High School on Western Avenue],  Fritz played football briefly for Northwestern, Harvard, and Dartmouth. In 1915, he received a Rockefeller scholarship to attend Brown University in Providence, R.I.  At Brown, Fritz was one of two blacks enrolled in the school.  He played the first African American head coach in the National Football League. Pollard along with Bobby Marshall were the first two African American players in the NFL in 1920. Football pioneer Walter Camp ranked Pollard as "one of the greatest runners these eyes have ever seen."  Later he became the first black man to play in the Rose Bowl.  In 2005, "Fritz" Pollard became the first black head coach to be inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Fritz Pollark also published the first black-owned newspaper in New York City, the New York Independent News, from 1935 to 1942. He also worked as a casting agent, studio manager and producer in the entertainment industry, as well as a tax consultant. Pollard died on May 11, 1986, at age 92.

In 2005, the football pioneer received a long-overdue honor with his election to the Pro Football Hall of Fame. His name lives on through the Fritz Pollard Alliance, which was founded in 2003 to help promote the hiring of minorities in the NFL.

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Frederick’s son, "Fritz" Pollard Jr. [pictured below], went on to become a track and field star at Senn High School before competing in and earning a bronze medal in the 1936 Olympics in Berlin.
Sidenote: Track star Jesse Owens, one of the greatest Olympians of all time, won four gold medals at this Olympics. What Fritz Pollard, Jr, along with 16 other African-American Olympians did in Berlin, though, has largely been forgotten — and so too has their rough return home to racial segregation.

About the Pollard family:
"They have fought through obstacles to achieve accomplishments that are amazing even by today’s standards," the Rogers Park historical society wrote. "Rogers Park’s Pollard family exemplified excellence in every sense of the word ... Unfortunately today, these great people are hardly recognized and have all but been forgotten in time."  For all their achievements, the Pollards never reached the level of fame that other influential families in the era enjoyed.  Yet their ability to become pioneers in multiple arenas, challenging racial norms, helped pave the way for other athletes of color worldwide.

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Picture above: Frederick’s son, "Fritz" Pollard Jr.
Picture left: Fritz speaking at a dinner with President Nixon