History

The Hyde Park & Kenwood Interfaith Council traces its history back to a cooperative gathering of churches which began on February 9, 1911, and has transformed over time from a council of churches to an interfaith endeavor!

For some years, its primary focus has been upon supporting social services in the Hyde Park area, including a free medical clinic, a food pantry, and a transitional housing project (all of them now 501c3 organizations in their own right).

In the context of rewriting our bylaws, we also examined our inherited structures, which assumed an old model of fixed congregational membership (a model drawn from historic patterns of church and synagogue) and which did not allow for today’s religious demographics, especially in a University neighborhood. We are expecting to reexamine these structures as we redefine our mission to one of creating intentional partnerships with those involved in interfaith work beyond our own immediate neighborhoods, and to seek new ways of connecting with national and international interfaith bodies present in Chicago. In all of this, we bring our particular strengths as communities connected in multiple ways to the strong intellectual traditions of the University of Chicago and of the seminaries in the Hyde Park area.

At the same time, we are discerning the right ways of partnering with others to address urban issues of obvious shared concern, especially in relation to urban violence and its effects—in particular upon our neighborhoods on the south side.