Editorial: Mundelein church closing leads to memorable gesture
Faced with the closure of their house of worship, leaders of Kirk of the Lakes Presbyterian Church in Mundelein could have quietly pulled the blinds and locked the doors as they walked out for the last time.
No one would have blamed them because losing your church, your spiritual sanctuary, is nothing to celebrate. In the case of Kirk of the Lakes, declining membership spelled the end of the road for the 55-year-old congregation. Church leaders then faced the prospect of fading into the community's memory or doing something generous, something useful, something memorable.
They chose the latter.
After selling the property at 1500 W. Hawley St. to neighboring Mundelein High School for $1.6 million, they earmarked $700,000 to be given to 34 local, national and international charities to bring hope and healing and love to the community they served for so long. The balance of the net proceeds from the property sale will go to the Presbytery of Chicago to support new church development and redevelopment projects.
Talk about going out with a bang.
"This really is Kirk's legacy," the Rev. Nancy Dolan told our Russell Lissau. "While we are certainly sad that it was time for the church to close, we are people of faith and hope. These gifts are an act of faith."
The donations come at a time of particular need. Many social service agencies are running on fumes because of lack of state funding caused by an ongoing political stalemate over the budget. There is evidence of a declining jobless rate and an improving economy, but it often stands in sharp contrast to those who don't make enough money to afford healthy meals and safe shelter.
The chosen recipients are groups that have partnered with Kirk of the Lakes or were recommended by church members. The list represents a broad cross section of the support network to help in addressing a range of needs from drugs and behavioral issues, to health, hunger, homelessness and more.
The financial help is in the form of gifts ranging from $1,000 to $100,000 for use in Lake County, across the country and around the world. For example, Fremont Township will use its $20,000 gift to buy items for its food pantry when items run low. For PADS Lake County, which has seen recent losses in state and federal funds, the $20,000 it received will help to hire a case worker to work with homeless families.
With the August closing of Kirk of the Lakes, members of the congregation are finding new houses of worship to join. The emotional transition may be tough. However, they can take some comfort in knowing the ministries they were part of, the good done for the community, will live on thanks to their church's generosity.