Baha'i News -- Religious variety is wide, and there's room for more
Religious variety is wide, and there's room for more
There's room for growth in Vernon Hills' religious diversity. But
already, a variety of cultures calls the village home.
Worshippers from several faiths - including Jewish, Roman
Catholic, Presbyterian, Lutheran, and Baha'i - congregate in town.
Four congregations - Highland Korean Presbyterian Church, Christ
Lutheran Church, Congregation Or Shalom and St. Mary of Vernon -
have been in the community for nearly 25 years or more.
While they're competing in the same area for followers, all the
groups say there's enough space for other religious groups to join
St. Mary of Vernon Catholic parish, 236 Route 45, Indian Creek,
is the largest church in the area with a congregation of more than
2,000 families. The parish was founded in 1978 and is part of the
Archdiocese of Chicago.
While the majority of the parishioners are from Vernon Hills, the
church also draws members from the southern end of Mundelein, parts
of Buffalo Grove, all of Prairie View and Hawthorn Woods.
"We have a very large religious education program with more than
1,100 students in kindergarten-through-eight classes," Business
Manager Susan Gray said.
The parish also has a successful youth ministry targeted at high
school students, an extensive social service outreach program
through clothing and food pantries and a furniture redistribution
"There's a lot of poverty in our community," Gray said. "We have
a huge client base between Vernon Hills and the Mundelein area."
About 60 families utilize the church's food pantry each month.
The church also doubles as a Public Action to Deliver Shelter, or
PADS, site, housing more than 60 people every week.
Both Christ Lutheran Church and Congregation Or Shalom have a
significantly smaller congregations of 300 families.
"It's growing little by little," said Christ Lutheran Pastor
David Dennison. "Can't grow too fast, won't have room."
The 27-year-old church, 595 N. Deerpath Road, draws members from
Vernon Hills, Mundelein, Libertyville, Buffalo Grove and Lake
"Each church has to reach out to welcome (new residents) to be
part of the community," Dennison said. "There's plenty of room for
Or Shalom, at 21 E. Hawthorn Parkway, is the only reformed
congregation in Vernon Hills, says Administrator Zena Singer.
It draws from a wide area, which includes Vernon Hills,
Libertyville, Mundelein, Buffalo Grove, Gurnee, Lake Zurich and
"The reality is that you go just a little farther south in
Buffalo Grove and there are 11 synagogues," Singer said. Or Shalom
is one of the few synagogues in this region.
It offers religious programs from kindergarten through high
school and Hebrew classes.
Each of the groups have some unique traits and a specialized
approach to their ministry.
Just like the name suggests, Highland Korean Presbyterian Church
caters to a majority Korean congregation.
The church, at 820 S. Milwaukee Ave., was established in 1977.
It's nearly 250 members come from Vernon Hills and other parts of
"It's a typical local church," said Pastor David Park.
However, unlike a typical local church, this one offers services
in Korean and English.
"We have a multiethnic group," Park said.
His mission is to expand services to other cultures and to invite
more ethnic membership.
"I believe there is a need for a church for Hispanics," Park
said. "We need to have a plan to outreach to the Hispanic society."
Some of the newer and smaller religious groups are the Lakeview
Presbyterian Church, 1100 Lakeview Parkway, and the Local Assembly
of the Baha'is of Vernon Hills.
Lakeview is about 12 years old with nearly 70 people in the
congregation. It was formed as a result of a merger between North
Shore Presbyterian and Hawthorn Community Church.
"It's a conservative denomination and we take very seriously the
doctrine of inerrancy of the scriptures," Pastor Chris Gearhart
said. "There's a strong emphasis on preaching and teaching."
The church also emphasizes evangelism, missions and mercy. It
offers Bible studies for woman and ministers to women, youth,
children and senior citizens.
"All of our programs will fit into one or more of those
categories very specifically," Gearhart said.
Congregates are mostly from Vernon Hills, Mundelein and
Libertyville. But members also come from Lake Bluff, Lake Forest and
"Our denomination is a small one, so if (people) are looking for
a reformed church that is conservative, there's just fewer options,"
And smaller still is the Baha'i assembly, which has only 20
members from Vernon Hills and no fixed meeting place.
It's followers believe in the divine origin of the world's
religions including Christianity, Judaism, Buddhism, Hinduism, and
They believe religion is progressive and follow the teachings of
Baha'u'llah, the prophet of the Baha'i faith. The congregation meets
in members' homes.
"It bears the same relation to Islam as Christianity does to
Judaism," assembly member Robert Blum said.
©Copyright 2002, Chicago Daily Herald
Page last updated/revised 020501
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