CHICAGO (CBS) — Churches near McCormick place are taking steps to deal with the upcoming NATO summit.
CBS 2’s Derrick Blakley reports there will be no Sunday services at two historic houses of worship when the summit starts in two weeks.
Expressway closures, street closures, and the potential threat of disruptive demonstrations all weighed into the decision by two historic churches to worship elsewhere on May 20.
At Quinn Chapel AME Church, at 24th Street and Wabash Avenue, African-Americans have been worshiping since 1892. It’s the oldest African-American church in the city, but when NATO comes to Chicago in two weeks, the congregation is taking worship to another church.
“We just don’t know what’s going to happen, so I’d rather be safe and move it for a Sunday, than … potentially not being able to access the church for service,” Quinn Chapel member Tracie Anderson said.
McCormick Place is visible from Quinn Chapel, just two blocks away. That means there’s no way the congregation can escape the impact of the summit.
So, on May 20, Quinn Chapel’s members will worship at the Wabash YMCA, almost two miles south at 38th Street and Wabash Avenue.
“This allows us the opportunity to go out into the neighborhood, and do some outreach, change the location of our service, and reach some others that are not in our immediate neighborhood,” church member Martell Jackson said.
Meantime, another historic church, Second Presbyterian Church of Chicago, at 19th Street and Michigan Avenue, won’t be holding services on May 20, either.
Again, the church is facing legitimate worries about access.
“In the impacted area, I believe, it’s not only an additional hour to get there. It could be two or three hours to get to some of these places,” Ald. Bob Fioretti (2nd) said.
Both churches are about a block outside the security perimeter that the Secret Service is expected to establish around McCormick Place during the summit. And with all the motorcades bringing NATO delegates to and from the summit, traffic in the area likely will be a nightmare on May 20.
But Quinn Chapel’s pastor says he’s hopeful the short-term inconvenience will pay off.
“If they can protect these assets, protect world leaders, pull this summit off, make the city of Chicago look good, make our president look good in doing all of this – then it’s worth it,” Rev. James Moody said.
Another concern for Quinn Chapel’s members is the safety of their historic building. They’re involved in a long-term, multi-million dollar project to renovate and preserve the structure. Obviously they don’t want any property damage by protesters that might set back those efforts.