The North Suburbs include the communities along Lake Michigan collectively known as the North Shore, as well as the Northwest Suburbs found on and around the Union Pacific Northwest Metra Line, and the Far North Suburbs anchored by Waukegan, the seat of Lake County.
Churches in the North Suburbs’ history
As with the rest of Chicago, religion and churches have made a significant impact on the North Suburbs’ history. As people moved away from the city to build new communities on the outskirts, they brought their faiths along with them, constructing churches and places of worship in their new neighborhoods. And as the population in the suburbs grew and became more diverse, so did religions and religious structures in the area.
There were several notable events that led to the growth of Chicago’s North Suburbs. The Great Chicago Fire of 1871 has displaced many of the city’s wealthiest, leading some to move to areas where there were more open spaces. European immigrants also found the less congested region north of Chicago to be more accommodating to building new agricultural communities. And when the Northern Pacific Railway found its way to the hinterlands, more Chicagoans followed to capitalize on the railroad’s promise of economic progress.
Many immigrants who moved to the North Suburbs grouped themselves according to their ethnicity and religion. The earliest churches and communities in the area were founded by German and Irish Roman Catholics, as well as German Lutherans. They were followed by Swedish Lutherans, Methodists, and Evangelical Covenant.
During the Industrial Era, a large part of Chicago’s Jewish population made the move to the suburbs, as well. To the north, many settled in the neighborhoods of Skokie, Lincolnwood, and Buffalo Grove, establishing synagogues and other Jewish institutions.
Catholics, meanwhile, continued to congregate more in the heart of Chicago. While they also dominated the population in the suburbs, they left more room for Protestant churches to increase in number.
- North Shore, an area that makes up a significant part of Chicago’s North Suburbs, has a population of around 182,000 as of the latest Census estimates
- Roman Catholicism is the dominant religion among north suburb residents, followed by non-denominational faiths of Evangelical Protestant tradition
- The municipalities of Winnetka and Northfield combined have 20 churches, one of the highest numbers of Christian churches among all Illinois zip codes
Notable Christian Churches in the North Suburbs
- St. Thomas the Apostle Catholic Church
St. Thomas the Apostle parish was established in 1846 and today has five buildings in the village of Crystal Lake, two of which are churches. The Pierson Street Church was dedicated in July, 1925, and the second church on Oak Street was dedicated in April, 1968. The parish also includes St. Thomas School, which opened in 1927 and provides Kindergarten to middle school education, under the supervision of the Dominican Sisters of Springfield, IL.
- North Shore Baptist Church
Founded in September, 1905 as a mostly European-American congregation, the North Shore Baptist Church has evolved into a multicultural community that offers worship in four languages — English, Japanese, Spanish, and Karen. The church is housed in a beautiful vintage building in the historic Edgewater district of Uptown Chicago.
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