Chicago’s South Suburbs encompass the area along I-57, south of I-55 and Chicago Skyway. Known as Chicago Southland, the region mostly includes communities belonging to Cook County, but a few fall within the Will County territory.
The South Suburbs are known for their widely diverse racial and economic make-up. Areas to the north are populated by middle to lower income residents, and the areas further south and west are home to higher income residents. While most of the area is residential, it also includes a vast portion of the Cook County Forest Preserve, which features various ecosystems and provides opportunities for outdoor recreation, including fishing, hiking, and paddling.
Many communities in the region were founded during the city’s Industrial Age, and to this day, manufacturing industries continue to shape the economy, along with healthcare, retail, and education. There are a few major developments in the pipeline for the area, including the Calumet Reserve Project, a proposed South East Service Metra line, the planned third international airport for Chicago, and others, which, when materialized, can give the area’s growth and development a big boost.
Churches in the history of the South Suburbs
As with other Chicago suburban regions, the South Suburbs started to grow in the mid to late 1800s as city residents moved to the outskirts to establish farming communities. Churches followed their congregations and built new places of worship to serve their communities.
While many of Chicago’s earliest suburban settlers chose to move north and west of the city, a smaller number settled in the south, forming communities like South Holland and Hazel Crest. These communities grouped according to their ethnicity and religions. Catholics, Lutherans, and Methodists made up most of these early settlers.
The Industrial Era of the 1920s to the 1960s coincided with the widespread migration of African Americans from the South, who established their own churches, mostly of the Methodist, Baptist, and Pentecostal faiths. By the late 1920s, around 20% of churches in the Chicago area were African American churches, known collectively as “black churches.”
Industrial jobs in the south increased by more than 50% from 1929 to 1946, attracting African American workers, who moved to the area in large numbers. Today, African Americans make up most of the population in the suburbs near and east of Interstate 57, where there’s also a large concentration of black churches.
- As of the latest Census estimates, Chicago Southland has a population of around 2.5 million
- The region consists around 70 municipalities
- The South Suburbs have the highest homeownership rates among African Americans, with five communities in the region ranked in Pew Research’s list of places with the highest black homeownership in the country
- South suburb communities vary greatly in age. Some were established during the mid to late 1800s as farming communities or getaways for Chicago’s wealthy, while others, such as Calumet and Harvey, were formed during the city’s Industrial Age (1920s to 1960s).
Notable Churches and Church Organizations in the South Suburbs
- The Twin Towers Sanctuary of Orland Park’s United Methodist Church
Completed and dedicated in 1898, the Twin Towers Sanctuary was designed in the Queen Anne style by architect William Arthur Bennet, who later came to be known for his works in the Prairie School style. The church features two hexagonal towers after which it was named, as well as a Sullivanesque tin ceiling, which is considered to be the best example of its kind in the country.
- The Landmark Chapel at Tinley Park
Built in 1884 in the Prairie-Gothic style, this frame building church of the Zion Lutheran faith will take you back to the earliest days of the village of Tinley Park and the Chicago area. Now one of the village’s quaint attractions and a popular wedding venue, the chapel is a charming reminder of the village’s German heritage and storied past.
- Chicago Church of Christ
Affiliated with the International Churches of Christ, a religious organization with a presence in around 155 countries, Chicago Church of Christ is grounded on the principle that the Bible is the Word of God and should be at the center of everyone’s life. The church has eight locations in the Chicago metropolitan area, including in the Southland, where it holds services at the Tinley Park Reformed Church.
- SouthBridge Church
One of Chicago’s “mega churches”, SouthBridge Church describes itself a non-denominational, Bible-based Christian church. The church espouses the belief that the Bible “has supreme authority in all matters of life and conduct”, and welcomes people of any religion to its worship services. Established in 1885, the church is presently housed in a cylindrical building that has been an Orland Park landmark for more than 30 years.
Buy or sell a church in Chicago’s South Suburbs with Church Building Consultants Realty
Whether you’re looking for a new home for your ministry, or wish to find a worthy new owner for your church, you need the help of experts in achieving your real estate goals. With over 25 years of experience and unparalleled background in buying and selling churches in the Chicago area, the team at Church Building Consultants Realty are the professionals to call. Get in touch with them today at 630.344.9449 or at Dan(at)ChurchBuildingRealty(dotted)com.