Great music has been central to the worship life of Third Unitarian Church on the Westside of Chicago, due both to the congregation’s love of music and the generosity of its members. In the 1950s, Third Unitarian Church was given a 1912 Steinway piano that added rich tones and beauty to services for nearly five decades. Despite extraordinary care and maintenance of the Steinway, the keys and internal mechanisms gradually began to suffer. Facing repair costs of up to $15,000, the Music Director, Donald Neale, and church leaders knew something had to be done.
After some amount of consideration, the decision was made to sell the beloved Steinway and to invest in a new Estonia piano. With the proceeds from the Steinway, a major gift from a member, and additional fund-raising, the Estonia was purchased. Now the bright, clear tones of the new Estonia ring through the sanctuary of Third Unitarian Church, thanks to the generosity of the congregation.
Third Unitarian Church is set in an urban environment where the needs of the surrounding population and properties are many. According to the Reverend Brian Covell, minister of the church since 2003, one nearby derelict property was purchased and torn down. The property has been enhanced and creates an aesthetic buffer that church neighbors appreciate.
Always looking for ways to serve the local community, the church houses a Headstart center in the lower level of the church. Rev. Covell hopes that someday the church will be able to add on a new program wing to its building, perhaps with Green construction features, and additional parking will be needed as the church grows. To envision design plans for their facilities in the future, the church participated in the Sacred Spaces program for one year.
Reverend Covell is proud of the Third Unitarian Church’s involvement in the wider Unitarian Universalist Association. He reports that Third Unitarian is a “robust supporter” of the Central Midwest District’s activities. The church also participated in the 2007 Association Sunday. The congregation of 113 members gave generously, contributing over $900 to this Unitarian Universalist Association initiative.
Third Unitarian Church is stretching to meet the challenges of the economic downturn, with pledges increased by over 20% so far in this year’s annual campaign. Despite a drop in endowment income, congregation leaders are hopeful that the income goal will be reached.
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Last updated on Thursday, September 8, 2011.
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