‘Much more inspiring’: Park Ridge church gets a makeover

A 50-year-old Park Ridge chapel recently received a roughly $600,000 makeover paid for by contributions from congregants of the Iglesia Ni Cristo (INC), otherwise known as Church of Christ.

The INC, a global nondenominational Christian church that originated in the Philippines in the early 20th century, purchased the former Protestant Episcopal Church, located at 1600 N. Greenwood Ave., in 2012 for $1.5 million, according to INC representatives. Ruel Salazar, a minister for the church, said worshippers from Park Ridge and surrounding communities have attended the chapel since it was purchased by INC four years ago.

Salazar said the Park Ridge congregation has existed since 1999, and before the Greenwood Avenue church was purchased, INC worshippers met in an office space controlled by INC and then in rented community halls. An INC press release states that congregants from Park Ridge, Morton Grove, Skokie, Arlington Heights, Harwood Heights, Oak Brook, Northbrook, Glenview, Norridge, and Niles would sometimes travel long distances to other INC congregations.

The recent renovation work, which began in August of last year and was completed earlier this year, included a new facade made of metal paneling, stucco finish and decorative moldings, said Raymond Frank, an architect for the church. New steeple towers were installed on the 3,500-square-foot building, in addition to new roofing, a new lobby, restrooms and interior refinishing on the first floor of the chapel, he said.

The renovation work is intended to make the church look more like other INC churches around the globe, he said. The design is “gothic-inspired,” Frank said.

“We have a certain look for our churches, a certain style of building. Whenever we do renovations or modifications, we try to incorporate that to have the same feeling,” he said.

Franks said INC is always looking for churches to purchase to accommodate the growing congregation. The Park Ridge chapel was a “perfect” place to establish a permanent home for the congregation because it provides easier access to a place of worship for INC congregants in the area, said Lois Paula Riturban, a spokeswoman for INC.

The funds for the cost of the building and the renovation work come from INC members in over 5,000 congregations around the world, Riturban said. She said the collected donations are “distributed and allocated as needed.”

Worshippers are “very pleased” with the newly rehabilitated chapel, Frank said.

“Compared to before, the building is much brighter, much more inspiring,” he said. “It’s a great place to go and worship.”

Before the INC renovated the building, Salazar said, the condition of the structure did not benefit or complement the community around it.

“I think it’s more beneficial now than before as a nice place, a suitable place for them to worship,” he said.

The Park Ridge congregation consists of slightly less than 300 members, according to Salazar. Most of INC’s membership is Asian, Salazar said, but the church is not restricted to any particular group of people.

“The place is open to everyone, and we invite everyone who is curious about the church, because it is a nondenominational church,” he said. “It’s a global church.”

Lee V. Gaines is a freelance reporter for Pioneer Press.

http://www.chicagotribune.com/suburbs/park-ridge/news/ct-prh-new-church-tl-0309-2-20170306-story.html