An introduction to St. Gertrude and Ecumenical and Interreligious Activities

There is a distinction between “ecumenical” and “interreligious” activities.  Ecumenical activities occur between members of Christian denominations – Catholics, Baptists, Lutherans, Methodists, Presbyterians, and others we call “Protestants”.  Interreligious activities are between Christians and non-Christians, such as Jews, Muslims, Hindus, etc.   For local Catholics, our most common interreligious partners are Jews and Muslims since these faith groups also have houses of worship here in Edgewater.

The Edgewater Clergy and Rabbinical Association (ECRA) was formed around 1960, which predates Vatican II – the global Catholic council that opened the doors to both ecumenical and interreligious activities.   The original ECRA group consisted of Protestant ministers, Catholic priests, and Jewish rabbis.  Through their cooperative action, other community organizations were formed, such as the Edgewater Community Council and Care for Real.   The group does not have formal rules, but is guided by a spirit of mutual respect and a desire for harmonious co-existence and community progress, with special attention paid to the most vulnerable neighbors.   The annual ECRA Thanksgiving service has been going on for many years, and is a time for the individual members of the congregations to get together while also serving as a fundraiser for Care for Real, our Edgewater Community food pantry.   In the early 1990s, members from St. Gertrude, Immanuel Lutheran, and Emanuel Congregation even took a trip together to the Holy Land!

In the mid-1990s, the organization title changed to The Edgewater Community Religious Association (keeping the ECRA acronym) to accommodate the entry of Muslim houses of worship into our community.    In 2008, ECRA started the “Sacred Seeds” dialogue series – in which there were eight presentations through 2010 on various scripture-topics presented from Jewish, Muslim, Protestant and Catholic viewpoints.   After a four-year absence, “Sacred Seeds” resumed in the Spring of 2015 – and since then we’ve been sharing these gatherings twice a year – spring and fall – on various topics of common concern.   

October 31, 2017 will mark 500 years since Martin Luther posted the famous “95 Theses,” igniting the Protestant reformation that dramatically changed the course of Christianity.   The gap between Catholics and Lutherans has been closing since the 1960’s, aided by the Second Vatican Council and a “Joint Declaration on Justification by Faith,” which helped resolve a major theological hindrance to unity.   Since October 31, 2016 we’ve promoted Catholic-Lutheran events, leading up to a joint commemoration of the 500th anniversary of these “95 theses”.

Many St. Gertrude parishioners are involved in various ecumenical and interreligious activities (EIA).   We do not have a formal EIA group, but parishioner Allen Stryczek, , 773-973-3637, tries to encourage many of these activities, and keep abreast of other activities as they spring up.   Allen also shares St. Gertrude EIA activities with the Archdiocesan EIA office – to help other Catholic parishes learn from one another, and celebrate larger Archdiocesan gatherings.   Please share your EIA thoughts and ideas with him.  


Mid-2016 through end of 2017  EIA Activities at St. Gertrude

October 9, 2016,    St. Gertrude’s hosted  the ECRA “Sacred Seeds”  on Death and Dying.   About 125 attended this presentation from Jewish, Muslim, Catholic, and other Christian perspectives.

October (mid-month), 2016        Loyola University Community Relations hosted a “Northside Prayer Breakfast” with Cook Country Board President Toni Preckwinkle.   Several ECRA members attended as well various religious leaders from Rogers Park.

October 30 / 31, 2016  St. Paul’s Lutheran in Evanston, in conjunction with Evanston, hosted a Martin Marty presentation on Sunday, and then a Monday morning telecast of the gathering in Lund, Sweden with the Lutheran World Federation and Pope Francis participating.   Edgewater’s Immanuel Lutheran (Pastor Monte Johnson, etc.) and a few from St. Gertrude participated in the sessions on both days as well.

November, 2016    Immanuel Lutheran hosted  the ECRA Thanksgiving Service, with about 175 attendees. 

January, 2017  For the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity - St. Gertrude sent out letters with Graymoor Institute prayer cards  to about 25 Christian Churches in Edgewater – and included the prayer for those churches in a spotlight page in the bulletin

February, 2017 There was a Taize Prayer Service at Immanuel Lutheran with Mary Horan, Dana Sullivan and St. Gertrude musicians participating.  Of the approximately 30 people at the service, perhaps 10 were from St. Gertrude .

February-March, 2017 There was a Book of Romans Study for 5 Thursday mornings at Immanuel Lutheran, shepherded by Pastor Monte Johnson, based on the studies of N.T.Wright.   2 to 4 participated each week from St. Gertrude, with about 4 to 6 from Immanuel Lutheran.

Sunday, March 5, 2017 – At the back table at St. Gertrude, there was a free distribution of 56 copies of the Catholic/Ecumenical version of “The Message” Bible by Eugene Peterson, donated by a parishioner.  

March 8, 2017 – St. Gertrude Refugee Ministry hosted a “Simple Soup Supper” followed by Taize prayer in Church.   ECRA members were invited, and a half dozen from the Ismaili Center attended both the soup supper and the Taize prayer.   They were moved by our hospitality and the kind follow-up note with a photo by Dana Sullivan.

March 15, 2017  The regular monthly ECRA meeting was held this month at Immanuel Lutheran Church.  Jermaine Pearson, Loyola Interfaith Campus Minister;  and Liz Gentry, Hospitality Pastor of New Story Church that meets in the Swift School Auditorium;  and Steve Lepse of Salvation Army who attends First Evangelical Free Church attended were new ECRA participants this month.   Allen Styczek continues to strive to build bridges with those faith communities that currently are not members of ECRA.

March 17, 2017  With the three Lutheran churches taking the lead, several Christian churches attended the Emanuel Congregation Friday evening Shabbat service as a show of solidarity with our Jewish neighbors after a bomb threat against the Jewish Day School there 10 days prior evacuated the youth from the school for a few hours.

March 19, 2017  AKnow Your Rights” seminar was offered by North Shore Baptist Church to all ECRA members concerning what to do about current concerns with ICE encounters for those people who currently may not have appropriate documentation.   This was a follow-up to a similar event that was held at North Shore Baptist around the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.  holiday which was attended by several from St. Gertrude.   This ECRA event was publicized in the St. Gertrude bulletin.  

March 21, 2017  There was a daytime showing of Rick’s Steves’ (a Lutheran) 1 hour DVD on Luther to about 8 from the Immanuel Lutheran senior group, and 2 from St. Gertrude’s attending.   Mary Ann Collins, Judy Diaz, and Ginger Williams were among the St. Gertrude invitees who had a prior commitment.    All three will hopefully meet Marcia Smith the new Immanuel Lutheran Parish Nurse in the near future.

March 21, 2017 There was vespers at St. Ita with Bishop Kane presiding and ELCA Bishop Wayne Miller preaching.   While this was publicized in the bulletin, the St. Gertrude pastoral and musical leadership each had last minute illnesses and were unable to participate in this Lutheran-Catholic Reformation Year event.

April, 2017 – The St. Gertrude Refugee Ministry accepted another family from Catholic Charities.   The newest addition is a Hindu Nepali family from Bhutan.   Since Bhutan is a Buddhist country, the Hindu Nepali are a persecuted minority.

April 9, 2017 -  St. Gertrude had it’s normal 11 AM Palm Sunday procession, starting at the Granville/Glenwood intersection and travelling up and down the 1400 block of Granville.  About 10:50, the Granville Methodist Church Palm Sunday reached the same Granville/Glenwood intersection in their procession around the 1300 blocks of Granville and Hood – and Fr. Dom and the neighboring congregation waved palm branches to each other as they passed by.

April 15, 2017   This was the third joint Lighting of Easter Vigil Candle at 7-7:15 PM in the last four years.   This year the lighting took place at 1401 Glenlake, just about half way between Immanuel Lutheran and St. Gertrude.    The previous two joint lightings of the Easter Vigil candle had taken place at Immanuel Lutheran.   The St. Gertrude Easter Vigil candle arrived on time for the start of the very long 7:30 PM Holy Saturday Easter Vigil Mass.

April 30, 2017  Emanuel Congregation hosted Sacred Seeds” on “The Prophetic Tradition Today:  Defining Justice in Society”   together with a Social Justice fair with eight organization participating as well.   Of the 85 that attended this event, about 34 were Catholic.  22 of the Catholic attendees were from St. Gertrude, and the other twelve were from six other parishes.

June 4, 2017 Pentecost Sunday – 11 AM at St. Gertrude will to recognize Fr. Dom’s leadership since 2005 prior to a new pastor  coming on July 1.   It’s anticipated that the Ismaili Center will participate in the some aspect of the service and that several Christian pastors will participate in the social aspect afterwards – since it will be after their Pentecost celebration as well.


Saturday, July 1, 2017 St. Gertrude welcomes Fr. Richard Prendergast as pastor.    We’ll want to introduce him to the lively ECRA group.

Wednesay, September 13, 2017 - The first ECRA meeting after the conclusion of summer.  Time: 12noon-1:30 PM Loc. TBD.

Friday, September 15, 2017  The Archdiocesan EIA Group will host a plenary sessions from 10 AM to Noon at the Meyer Center featuring aspects of the Catholic-Buddist dialogue around Chicago.

Greg Krohm Presentation – Schedule with Pastor Monte Johnson  / Richard Anderson – when’s a good date ?  at St. Gertrude ?

Sunday, in October  2017  “Sacred Seeds” on some aspect of art  at a location to be determined.

Fall, 2017 ?  Consider Exchanging “Art and History” and Windows Tours between Immanuel Lutheran and St. Gertrude.

October 31, 2017 – The 500th Anniversary Commemoration of Martin Luther’s 95 thesis to be held at Holy Name Cathedral.   St. Gertrude parishioners and those from other Edgewater Catholic and Lutheran churches will want to attend together.

November 19, 2017 – The ECRA Thanksgiving Service is typically held on the afternoon of the Sunday before Thanksgiving.   The location is usually determined at the September ECRA meeting.


St. Gertrude Parish
1420 West Granville Avenue
Chicago, IL 60660
Phone: (773) 764-3621