About RLC

A Loving (and Quirky) Community in the City

Resurrection Lutheran Church (RLC) is a vibrant, welcoming congregation in Chicago’s Lakeview neighborhood. We are a unique, progressive community of young adults, families, and older adults. We are a Reconciling in Christ congregation that welcomes, affirms, and includes all people.

What We Believe

At Resurrection Lutheran Church (RLC), we believe that God created the whole world good and loves it deeply. God’s limitless love is revealed in Jesus Christ and lived out in the church, the community shaped by the Holy Spirit. Nourished and guided by scripture, prayer and Christian community, we live, serve and grow together in the power of God’s forgiving and renewing grace.

RLC is part of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA), a Christian denomination with 3.7 million members in 9,300 congregations across the U.S. and in the Caribbean region. As members of the ELCA, we believe that we are freed in Christ to serve and love our neighbors.

For more about we believe, visit the ELCA website.

Our History

RLC has been a Christian community since 1970, but its roots date back to the 1880s.

Late in the 19th century, Swedish immigrants were moving to Chicago and settling on the city’s north side. Trinity Lutheran Church was founded by Swedes in 1883 on the corner of Seminary and Noble (now Barry). The building is still there, but it has since been converted into condos. The community at Trinity worshipped in Swedish. In 1896 Messiah Lutheran Church was founded by 14 families from Trinity who wanted to worship in English. They built it at the corner of Seminary and School, the original building still standing and since converted into our fellowship and kitchen areas.

In the 1960s both congregations began to decline in membership, eventually sharing a pastor. The pastor at that time, the Rev. Ronald Johnson, was known to neighbors as “the flying nun” because he would run three blocks in his worship garments from one service to another every Sunday morning. In October 1970 under Pastor Johnson’s leadership, Trinity and Messiah merged to form Resurrection Lutheran Church. In response to the needs of the surrounding community, Barbara Johnson, the wife of the pastor, and others founded Resurrection Preschool, a program with a secular, values-based curriculum that served the community from 1970-2021.

In 1912 the congregation at Messiah voted to allow female members to vote alongside male members in congregational meetings, 8 years before the ratification of the 19th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. In 1976 our Church Council approved the welcome of gays and lesbians into the church community, and RLC began hosting meetings for Lutheran gays and lesbians on the north side. In 1984 we became one of the first Reconciling in Christ congregations through Lutherans Concerned North America. Today we continue to be a welcoming congregation to the GLBTQ community and strive to live into welcome and justice for all of God’s people.

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