Our vision for Lyonsville Church is to be a home for the spiritual journey. Ours is a non-creedal church; there is no statement of beliefs to which people must agree in order to be a member. We encourage people to learn, ask questions, and reflect on their own beliefs in the light of the scriptures, reason, tradition, and human experience.
Lyonsville Congregational United Church of Christ is called by God to ministry in the name of Jesus Christ by:
* Preaching, teaching, and living the Gospel
* Sheltering travelers and refugees
* Feeding the hungry
* Healing the sick
* Nurturing new churches and ministers.
Christ calls us to discover and be good stewards of our God-given gifts to fulfill this mission. Please join us.
Preaching, Teaching, and Living the Gospel
Teaching was a priority for Lyonsville Church even in its early years. Before they built a church building, our founding members built the first school in the area, and brought a teacher from Scotland to teach the children of the developing community. The members founding the church believed that children should not neglect the Sabbath! Members of Lyonsville Church helped start other churches in the area, so the Word could be preached. We try to practice what we preach – to live the good news we proclaim.
Here’s what is happening these days:
School Kits -The congregation assembled 45 school kits to help students in need through Church World Service.
Music Ministries proclaim the gospel through music in our worship services. Our choir rehearses on Sunday mornings, 8:30-9:30 a.m., and sings regularly during the program year (September – May). Newcomers are always welcome. Contact the pastor, choir director or office for more information.
Scholarships: The church offers two scholarships to church members in educational programs beyond high school (college, trade school, graduate school, etc.) — the Paul Pavlus Scholarship, and the Ed and Shirley Karas Scholarship. Return to top of page
Sheltering Travelers and Refugees
In the early years of Lyonsville Church, church members often opened their homes to those who were travelling through the wilderness around the church. According to oral history, a founding church member used his home as a refuge for escaped slaves as part of the Underground Railroad. The Lyonsville Cemetery is a final resting place for two unknown soldiers from the Civil War.
In the 1980s, Pastor Tom Nielsen began a ministry to Guatemalan Refugees forced to flee to Southern Mexico by the violence in their country.
Today we strive to be a place of hospitality and acceptance for people who would like to be followers of Jesus, but have not felt welcome or at home in other churches. Ask us how!
We continue this important work by participating in the annual special offering, One Great Hour of Sharing. A part of this offering goes for disaster relief and economic development throughout the world.
Members of Lyonsville Church serve as volunteers for the B.E.D.S. homeless shelter program. Lyonsville served as one of the shelter sites for more than ten years prior to the relocation of sites to other facilities.
We assembled 70 clean-up kits to help folks who are cleaning up after natural disasters such as floods, tornadoes or earthquakes.
We support the work of The Night Ministry in Chicago — an ecumenical ministry to people on the nighttime streets of Chicago, many of whom are young people who have run away from abusive homes.
We seek to be a welcoming church, where all people feel valued and affirmed, especially those who have felt alienated from church in the past. We are an Open and Affirming (ONA) congregation of the United Church of Christ. “No matter who you are, or where you are on life’s journey, you are welcome here.” You can learn more about what it means to be an ONA church on our website’s home page. Return to top of page
Feeding the Hungry
Almost a century ago, the church started to offer dinners for people in the community. Today we still have annual turkey dinners, pancake breakfasts and such, but we also have an active food pantry for people in need. Jesus reminded us that we do not live by bread alone. We seek to feed people who are hungry for community, hope and good news as well.
Food Pantry Lyonsville church maintains a food pantry for individuals and families in need. The pantry is normally open and staffed by volunteers on the last Sunday of the month from 11:45 a.m. – 12:30 p.m. Call the church office for more information.
Adults and children regularly volunteer to help at the Greater Chicago Food Depository, or assemble food kits for Feed My Starving Children in Aurora, Illinois. See our Volunteer Opportunities post to learn about your next opportunity to help at these events.
CROP Walk Annually we participate in the LaGrange-Western Springs area 5K CROP Walk and raise funds for local and world-wide hunger relief programs. Part of the funds raised go to support our own food pantry at Lyonsville Church.
THE NIGHT MINISTRY We support the work of The Night Ministry in Chicago by providing food and community for people on the nighttime streets. Watch here and on the “Events” page for future trips downtown.
TURKEY DINNER At our annual Harvest Home Turkey Dinner more than 200 people enjoy a great meal together.
We do other community meals as well, including our annual Valentine’s Day Pancake Breakfast. Watch the “Events” post for more details about upcoming events.
We hope that you will be able to join us! Return to top of page
Healing the Sick
Worship and prayer are important ways that we develop and maintain a healthy understanding of ourselves and a relationship with the God who created us, gave us life, and knows best how human life should be lived. If your life seems out of control, this is an important place to start! Contact the church office to learn about study and prayer groups in the church.
Forerunners of the United Church of Christ helped to start what is now Advocate Health Care System – one of the largest health care providers in Illinois.
We pray for people who are sick and offer regular healing services. We believe that health is more than physical – God can help us heal from grief, loneliness, despair, fear, and other spiritual ailments.
Healing Services are offered at several times during the church year, usually during Advent (the season before Christmas) and Lent (the season before Easter).
Several church members have participated on medical mission trips throughout the world.
Our church building is used by several groups that help people be more healthy, including A.A., yoga, and an aerobics group Return to top of page
Nurturing New Churches
During the latter part of the 19th century, Lyonsville Church helped start three other area churches that are now thriving U.C.C. congregations. Our historic original sanctuary (built in 1858) is now being used by the Westminster Orthodox Presbyterian Church for worship and other activities. We participated in the capital campaign of the Illinois Conference, United Church of Christ, Into the Future – by the Spirit’s Power. Part of this campaign will be used to start new churches, revitalize existing churches, and train church leaders, both clergy and lay, for the future. Some of those funds were recently used by our church to support Stephen Loonam, a student at Chicago Theological Seminary, as a Ministry Intern.
We regularly participate in the Strengthen the Church special offering of the United Church of Christ. This offering goes to help new and renewing U.C.C. congregations.
We also participate in the Christmas Fund offering, which goes to provide assistance to retired ministers and their spouses who are living on less than adequate retirement income.
Christ calls us to discover and to be good stewards of our God-given gifts to fulfill this mission.
Lyonsville Church supports the ministries of the wider church by giving to Our Church’s Wider Mission (OCWM). These gifts go to support the work of our Fox Valley Association, the Illinois Conference, and the national ministry of the United Church of Christ.
Church members are encouraged to discover their Spiritual Gifts and to find ways they can use them in the ministries of the church.
Historically Lyonsville Church helped start several new congregations in the area in the 19th century, and today we seek to support and train seminary students and nurture persons interested in learning about ministry.
Church member Bennett McNeal was ordained in 2001, and is now the pastor of Community Congregational U.C.C. in Elburn, Illinois.
Church members Bill Ressl and Penny Taylor were ordained at Lyonsville Church in 2003, and now serve as co-pastors of Trinity Community United Church of Christ in Berwyn, Illinois.
Our Administrative Assistant for more than 12 years, and a ministry intern at Lyonsville Church, Curryanne Hostetler recently retired after serving as Pastor of Sparta United Church of Christ in Kimmell, Indiana since August, 2005.
Nicolette Siragusa, who served as a ministry intern with us while she was a student at Chicago Theological Seminary, was ordained in November 2008, and is now serving as the Pastor of First Congregational Church of Grand Ledge, Michigan.
The Rev. Merlyn Lawrence, a ministry intern in 2010-2011 was ordained in August 2013, and now serves as Associate Minister at the United Protestant Church (UMC/UCC) in Grayslake, Illinois.
The Rev. Marlea Waber grew up in Lyonsville Church and served as Associate Pastor at Swiss United Church of Christ in New Glarus, Wisconsin for 16 years until her death in 2007.
Kathy Cihak, who was an active part of Lyonsville’s Christian Education program, served as Director of Christian Education for a Presbyterian Church in Orland Park for several years.