St. Andrew United Methodist Church celebrates 60 years in Homewood

Before the Rev. Audrea Nanabray was to start as pastor at St. Andrew United Methodist Church this July, she wanted to get an unbiased “perspective from the pew,” so she attended a Sunday service without telling anyone who she was.
 
Not only was she impressed by the friendliness and warmth she was greeted with, but Nanabray now has the honor of helping the Homewood church celebrate its 60th anniversary.
 
“I was just a stranger coming in for a worship experience, and they received me with open arms, my family and I,” she said.
 
The church had a special worship service on Sunday, Sept. 30, to commemorate the founding of St. Andrew in 1958. Bishop Sally Dyck of the Northern Illinois Conference of the United Methodist Church spoke as a guest preacher.
 
CHURCH HISTORY:
  • 1957 – Methodist conference field director surveys interest for church in Homewood.
  • September 1957 – Methodist district leader and 14 residents meet to discuss forming church.
  • Nov. 10, 1957 – worship service held at Homewood Village Hall.
  • Feb. 9, 1958 – worship service held in Willow School gym.
  • Feb. 23, 1958 – organizing service held at Willow School; church established with 50 charter members.
  • 1961 – ground breaking for education wing at 18850 Riegel Road.
  • 1966 to 1967 – first chapel built and opened.
  • 1973 – first African American family joins St. Andrew.
  • 1975 to 1976 – current chapel built and opened.
(Facts provided by church lay leader Jackie Cunningham)
 
Looking forward, Nanabray said she wants the 60th year of St. Andrew to start a “paradigm shift.” One way is through Neighborhood Impact Groups, a new program where congregation members host small meetings in their homes for neighbors to join in a satellite worship service.
 
This will extend the reach of St. Andrew to those in the community who cannot get to a church, are not inclined to attend a church or who are hurting and seeking answers, she said. 
 
“The way I see it, everybody wants to belong,” Nanabray said. “Everybody wants someone to care, and everybody really needs pure, genuine love.”
 
Some things about the church have never changed, like its emphasis on community service and outreach, Nanabray said. 
 
“A lot of churches are in-focused; they are only concerned about what goes on within their membership and within their four walls, and that is not St. Andrew at all,” she said. “They are very concerned about the world around them.”
 
St. Andrew has been teaching free adult ESL (English as a Second Language) courses for about a year, and it has provided overnight shelter for homeless people through South Suburban PADS (Public Action to Deliver Shelter) for about 20 years.
 
The church has also worked with Boy Scout Troop 364 on service projects for 50 years.
 
Additionally, St. Andrew is a reconciling congregation, meaning everyone is accepted regardless of gender or sexual orientation.
 
Nanabray said it is important for people to know they are loved for who they are.
 
“We just want to spread the love of Christ for people who need to know it,” she said.
 

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