Chicago Church Connects in the Park

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It started with one mom seeking fellowship and time outside of the home. Three years later, “Pullman at the Park” is a thriving weekly gathering of members from Pullman Christian Reformed Church in Chicago.

Each Wednesday morning from June through August, children, parents, grandparents, and other church members meet at a different local park. The gatherings provide an avenue for community, but also an opportunity for learning given their intergenerational aspect.

“I have gained amazing relationships from some people in the church that I may not have normally interacted with,” said Rachel Heyboer, who began Pullman at the Park. “It has been wonderful.”

Several members from Pullman CRC gather for a group photo during a recent Pullman at the Park gathering.

Melissa Holtrop

Heyboer, a stay-at-home mom, and her husband, Jeremy, have two children, Esther, 5, and Phoebe, 2. Each week she selects a park, then places an announcement in the church bulletin. Since Pullman CRC draws members from near and far, she intentionally selects parks in different communities.

“It’s nice to get into the different neighborhoods of people from your church and see what their neighborhood is like and what the racial make-up is,” Heyboer said.

Pullman’s congregation is around 70 percent African American and 30 percent Caucasian.

“I think we make a statement when we go to a park because we are a diverse group and we are multi-age,” Heyboer said. “People are intrigued and comment that it’s nice we like to get together as a church.”

Augustine Young has been attending Pullman at the Park since it started, sometimes with her grandchildren and sometimes alone.

“I try to come every week,” Young said. “I am a retired grandmother. I love the outdoors, and I like helping with the families and kids.”

About the Author

Melissa Holtrop

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