Hope Episcopal Church is moving forward and taking its place in the neighborhood.
That’s what Dorothy Miller, a parishioner of Hope Episcopal, believes a construction project means for the church.
The project, which had a groundbreaking ceremony last Saturday, will give the church a new vestibule and two bathrooms.
“We’re letting everyone know that Hope is ready for people to come,” Miller said. “We’ve always been ready, but because we look like an older church and we are an older church, a lot of people are looking for brand new.”
According to Terry Smith, president of Brayton Construction, it will be approximately four months until the construction is finished.
“We’ve been waiting on this a long, long time,” parishioner Susan Perkins said. “We’ve been trying to do small improvements, like we’ve fixed the outside windows of the church, the back of the church. We’re really trying to get the neighbors to take notice.”
Another parishioner said getting a new face on the place will help.
The changes will illuminate how the church has moved forward and defeated its “Goliaths,” or bumps in the road, over the past few years.
“Being a church that is believed to be a black church in a predominantly white neighborhood itself is a challenge,” Miller said. “And also whenever the two churches merged, Incarnation and St. Michael’s, there was a feeling among the old-time people in Oak Forest that the church would not be accommodating or it would accommodate one type of person and that has been, I hope, dispelled.”
St. Michael’s was originally where Hope is now before the merger with Incarnation Episcopal Church in 2005.
“It was really a coming together of a church that looks the way the world looks,” parishioner Bridgette Bolden said. “We are a diverse church and we came together to help and support each other.”
The other “Goliath” that Miller mentioned is the size of Hope’s congregation, which is about 50 people. For them to raise a huge amount of money is difficult, but they were able to raise enough for the new building project.
While Hope is a traditional liturgical church, Miller said at the same time they are open and accommodating.
“I think we welcome the stranger, we don’t pass judgement on people,” Miller said. “You come as you are, and we accept you as you are and hope that you accept us as we are.”