CHICAGO (CBS) — A small church on the North Side has found a way to help its community and make life for meaningful for its members.
All Saints Episcopal Church has been a Ravenswood staple since 1884. It is the oldest frame church in the city and is a Chicago landmark, but that’s not why Polly Tangora says it’s her favorite place.
“It’s a congregation that is full of joy and really changes peoples’ lives,” she tells CBS 2’s Rob Johnson.
That congregation has been led by Pastor Bonnie Perry for 19 years. When she got here there were just 30 parishioners, and they nearly had to shut down.
Early on, she says, “I suggested that instead of worrying about our bills that we start worrying about the people in our neighborhood.”
Now, every Tuesday night, 400 people show up for bags of food packed by some 70 volunteers in their Just Neighbors Food Pantry.
During tough times in this neighborhood in transition, it is much appreciated.
“It’s very important. I’m disabled, so it’s difficult for me to work,” says Adelaide Meyers.
The church’s kids help weekly with the food pantry and have raised money for aid projects in the Sudan. In addition, church members have been helping to rebuild New Orleans.
Even though it is now a flourishing church with a membership over 600, it is one badly in need of repair. There’s even a hole in the foundation. Perry estimates it would take another $1.5 million to fix all of its problems.
“We are never going to do that at the expense of scholarships in Sudan, or rebuilding New Orleans or feeding people here,” she says.
As for Polly, she says the building is important, but it who’s on the inside that really matters.
“It’s a landmark to the community, but it’s really the people here who are important,” she says.
Polly has been at the church for 20 years now, and has run the children’s ministry for several years now.
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