Encyclopedia o f Chicago
Gallery : The Public Faces of Religion
The Public Faces of Religion
Public Gatherings
Church and State
Defining Territories
Providing Services
The Business of Religion
Religion and Society
Public Gatherings

Enthusiasm of Believers and Outsiders

Methodist camp meetings in the 19th century could be raucous affairs, with emotional preaching and energetic expressions of worship in which verbal and physical behavior that would be unusual in ordinary life was felt to be a sign of the spirit of God. Such meetings thrived in areas of recent settlement, where many could have considered themselves "outsiders." To some, however, these ecstatic meetings were an opportunity for crowd-watching entertainment, and offered a way to define their own more sober style of religiosity by contrast. "Scenes in a Camp Meeting in McHenry Co., Ill.," Western Tablet 24 Sept. 1853.

See also: Entertaining Chicagoans; McHenry County; Protestants

Dialogue Between Religions, 1893

While the religious unity that some participants hoped to find in the 1893 World's Parliament of Religions may have been elusive, the gathering succeeded in establishing a dialogue between representatives of religions and denominations from around the world. In the century after the Parliament, the religious traditions to be found in the Chicago metropolitan area became even more diverse than those represented by delegates to the 1893 Parliament. World's Parliament of Religions, 1893.

See also: Buddhists; Global Chicago; Hindus; World's Parliament of Religions; Religious Diversity, 2002 (Map)

Eucharistic Congress in Mundelein, 1926

It was not Roman Catholics alone who were interested in news of the 1926 Eucharistic Congress, which drew crowds of hundreds of thousands to Soldier Field for several days. The pilgrimage to the northern suburb of Mundelein on the final day of the Congress provided the Chicago Daily News with a number of compelling front-page stories, enlivened with details such as the pilgrims' consumption of ten tons of hot dogs, the crush of passengers on the trains, which began running at two-minute intervals from 4 a.m., and the Daily News's own pride at getting photographs from Mundelein into papers on the street within two hours, thanks to swift delivery by airplane. Eucharistic Congress, Chicago Daily News, 24 June 1926.

See also: Foodways; Mundelein; Newspapers; Places of Assembly; Roman Catholics

A Shared Spectacle of Faith, 1933

A dramatic pageant depicting thousands of years of Jewish religious history drew 150,000 people to Soldier Field during the Century of Progress Exposition in 1933. Jews, Protestants, and Roman Catholics came together to witness historical tableaus that celebrated a venerable religious identity and faith. At the same time, the interfaith harmony could itself be taken as an expression of a characteristic American identity, a "rebuke" to the hatred evident in what had recently become "Hitler's Germany." "Jewish 'Romance of a People,'" Chicago Daily News, 5 July 1933.

See also: Americanization; Jews; Judaism; Protestants; Roman Catholics

World Council of Churches, August 15-31, 1954

The Second Assembly of the World Council of Churches drew 1,600 delegates and thousands of other Protestants to Evanston in 1954, six years after the first assembly in Amsterdam. Joseph H. Jackson, pastor of Olivet Baptist Church and president of the National Baptist Convention, was among the delegates from Protestant denominations around the world who gathered at Northwestern University's newly built McGaw Hall. A week before Jackson presided over the morning service, President Dwight D. Eisenhower had addressed the convocation. More than 125,000 people attended the opening ceremonies in Soldier Field, less than a month before 260,000 set an attendance record at the stadium's Roman Catholic Marian Year celebration. World Council of Churches, Program for Morning Service, 1954.

See also: Religion, Chicago's Influence on; Northwestern University; Olivet Baptist Church; Protestants; Soldier Field