First United Methodist Church at the Chicago Temple, Chicago, IL

About this church
First United Methodist Church at the Chicago Temple is located downtown in the heart of “The Loop.” Consisting of 625 full members, their congregation represents the diversity of Chicago’s neighborhoods, drawing from every zip code in the entire city of Chicago, as well as 27 different suburb communities. There are Sunday worship services at 8:30am and 11:00am, as well as Wednesday Communion and Worship services and a Friday Taizé service. The music ministry is very diverse, and is composed of a multitude of talented and dedicated musicians.

“Sun, Moon, and a Star”- Navigating and Gravitating Toward Church Through the Arts
“Sun, Moon, and a Star” is the title of a statue by Miro in a small plaza adjacent to the Temple. In this unique setting, how might a weekly summer outdoor 6pm improvisatory or artistically themed 30-minute worship service inspire? Or, alternating with a summer outdoor music concert series, how might this setting redefine urban sacred music and transform the ways people view the Christian church in the city? There are some of the questions we seek to answer through worship and the arts on our busy corner at the heart of Chicago.

To expand our outreach, and truly represent life in downtown Chicago, it is vital to collaborate with the institutions that comprise our community. On a summer evening at rush hour, or perhaps at nightfall, what better place is there, than under the outstretched arms of a Celestial Queen, to explore the heavens of our faith?…to witness harmony among neighbors?…to see artists from all backgrounds uniting in story and song for the sake of our humanness? And who would have possessed the forethought to suggest a Methodist church would have enabled this vision to occur, and provided the gravitational pull uniting such a collection of artists?

Although the messages presented by the performances we create cannot be religious, we still want to introduce our audience to the many ministries happening here. Ultimately, that is the reason for our idea of having outdoor performances of this nature. Simply, we believe that if we do this well, people will feel the pull of goodness happening here, will be opened to a more substantial worldview, and more importantly, may ultimately choose to engage in shaping the world as suits their own unique set of gifts. Members of our congregation involved in some aspect of our Music Ministry, Fine Arts Committee, and/or Temple Art Gallery, are also leaders in other church ministries. There is a palpable sense of ownership among them, and due to the solidity and strength of the musical and artistic presence in the life of our church, we believe these ministries are the ones best equipped to achieve success for a project as substantial as this one is.


77 West Washington St.
Chicago, IL 60602

Team Members:

Phil Blackwell, Senior Pastor
Erik Nussbaum, Director of Music and the Arts
Barry Wenger, Organist