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Flossmoor Community Church celebrates nine decades with spirit of inclusion

This year marks the 90th anniversary of FCC. The church is what many would consider an ideal model of what a church should be ― one that offers education, provides a place to practice the values of faith and service and helps those in need.

  Elders of Flossmoor Community Church, Betty Jo & Bob
  Norby sing at Flossmoor Community Church. The
  Norby’s have been members of the church for
  40 years.
(Photo by Mary Compton/H-F Chronicle)

Flossmoor Community Church is what many would consider an ideal model of what a church should be ― one that offers education, provides a place to practice the values of faith and service and helps those in need.

Pastor Fred Lyon gives much credit to the staff, elders and governing board for the collaborative spirit of many working together, and assisting behind the scenes, to lead a church of 750 members.

  Fred Lyon, lead Pastor of
  Flossmoor Community
  Church, greets Kendall
  Byrd after a recent
  Sunday service.
  by Mary Compton/
  H-F Chronicle)

This year marks the 90th anniversary of FCC. The church was formally chartered in 1927 after a group of mothers had created a Christian Sunday School four years earlier. 

The church had several different meeting places before settling into the Community House, a white stuccoed building at 847 Hutchison Road, in 1934.

In 1945, the congregation retained an architect to design a permanent church structure to accommodate the growing church family. The new building, at 2218 Hutchison Road, was dedicated in 1948. The education and music wings were dedicated in 1955.

  Kenny and Leslie Maxie
  with daughters Rosie, 2,
  and Lily, 4, blow out church
  candles after a recent
  Sunday service.
  by Mary Compton/
  H-F Chronicle)

As the congregation continued to grow, the church saw expansions to the building in the coming years, including enlargement of the sanctuary in 1964 and improvements to the education and music wings. 

In 2006, the chancel was made handicapped accessible, and new space was added for the choir and the church organ.

A renovation project of the Community House took place in the 1980s, upgrading the interior and infrastructure. 

If you browse the church’s website, fccfaithful.org, you’ll find much emphasis on inclusion and diversity, including this statement: “Flossmoor Community Church is an inclusive community of faith, called to embody God’s love through worship, study, giving and service. We celebrate diversity and believe that all people are included in God’s unconditional love and grace.” 

  Some of the youngest
  members of FCC help
  prepare dinner for PADS
  guests Sunday evenings.
  FCC is a PADS site and
  provides shelter for
  homeless men Sunday
  nights from fall to spring.

  (Photo by Mary Compton/
  H-F Chronicle)

Church members welcome newcomers. The congregation’s members come from as many as 30 Christian traditions ― or no religious background at all.

FCC provides members of all ages opportunities to grow in faith. The church still continues to provide a strong Christian Sunday School program, as that early group of mothers intended, as well as a weekday preschool. Youth and adults will also find a number of educational and volunteer opportunities. 

Worship takes place at 9:45 a.m. each Sunday, followed by an education hour for all ages at 11 a.m. During worship, children age three through second grade can attend Worship Our Way (W.O.W.), except for the first Sunday of the month. 

W.O.W. includes a morning scripture story with corresponding activities and creative play. Information on the many ministries and ways to serve can be found at FCC’s website

  Robert K. Bell, pastor of
  the church for 33 years,
  laying the church

“The congregation does a good job of taking care of each other and reaching out as well, not just in the community, but regionally and even nationally and internationally,” said Lyon.

Among its involvement has been work trips to assist with Hurricane Katrina relief, mission work in Guatemala and a youth trip to the inner city neighborhoods of Washington, D.C. 

Church members have also taken an interest in social issues, such as the Syrian refugee crisis. 

“We don’t see them as issues,” said Lyon. “We see them as people.” 

Denise Morris is the representative of the Refugee Ministry. After Pastor Lyon was introduced to the organization Refugee One in 2016, Morris was invited to become an elder and coordinate the Refugee Resettlement Program. 

As co-sponsors of a Syrian family, FCC furnished an apartment, stocked it with food, transported the family from the airport and provided a hot meal. The family of five had left Syria three years earlier and were living in Jordan with family. 

  The Mahbani family in their
  new home. FCC 
  co-sponsoring the family,
  providing informal support
  to help them feel welcome
  and become self-reliant. 
(Provided photo)

“FCC has been extremely supportive with this program,” said Morris. “Members were very generous with donations and very interested in learning about refugee status, issues in Syria and the Muslim religion. In general, we value and respect diversity. Members come from various religious and political and cultural backgrounds.”

A member of the church since 1996, Morris said she was first drawn to the church because of the strong children’s program. She stays because of the strong support system. She felt compelled to be involved in the refugee program to extend support herself. 

“It started as a way to do something to help those faces I saw on TV and read about in the paper. Now it is so personal seeing the family laugh, learn and be so brave to move so far from home,” she said. “When they tell stories of bombings, guns and lost relatives, I know we did the right thing in helping them.”

FCC also is a committed supporter of Public Action to Deliver Shelter (PADS) providing shelter for male homeless persons. FCC is the host on Sunday evenings from October through April each year. PADS offers a hot dinner, breakfast and sack lunch. Volunteers spend the evening and night with the guests and prepare the meals.

The church also makes its space available for everything from yoga classes to support groups to other church communities. 

“We’ve got a big building and the building is part of our ministry,” said Lyon. “It doesn’t make sense to keep it all to ourselves. It serves the community by being a place for people to meet. Even if they don’t join the church, they are part of the church. They do things here that are important to them and help the community.”

Among those groups at FCC are Pinwheel, a support group for transgender youth and their families, and Lighthouse, providing support for teens and young adults who are processing their sexual and gender identity and the parents and guardians who love them.

Valerie Litchfield is one of the coordinators of Lighthouse, which came about as a collaborative effort between her, Stephanie Wright, and Phillip Barker, a student assistance coordinator at Homewood-Flossmoor High School. 

  Lighthouse LGBTQ support
  group meets at the FCC
  Community House. 

  (Provided photo)

“We recognized a need to have a place where LGBTQ youth could gather on a regular basis to discuss issues that were of importance and distinct to them,” said Litchfield. “We also wanted to offer a place where parents and guardians could come together and meet and support each other ― and more importantly to find community to celebrate the individuality of their kids.” 

At the time the three were exploring the idea of Lighthouse, Litchfield said that Pastor Lyon and the FCC governing board were looking for ways to open the church doors to the wider community. 

“It seemed like a natural fit between Lighthouse and Flossmoor Community Church,” she said.

Litchfield has been a member of FCC since 1982 and said the church has been “an important element” in not just her life but the lives of her three grown children, who were all baptized and confirmed at the church. 

In 2001, when her 18-year-old son came out as a gay man, she said the church was right there beside them, offering acceptance and support as they journeyed down an unfamiliar path.
“Sixteen years ago that was quite progressive for a church,” she said. 

That son went on to become an employment lawyer who “works tirelessly on issues of rights and protections for the LGBT community, as well as immigration issues,” said Litchfield. 

She believes that the person he is today resulted from the way he was raised not only at home but by his church family. “We will always be grateful for that,” she said.

Lighthouse meets the third Wednesday of each month at the FCC Community House. The high school and young adult group meets from 5:30 to 6:30 p.m. 

Parent meetings can be requested through the organization’s website, lighthouselgbtq.org, where further information about meetings, resources and special events is available. Lighthouse also has a Facebook page.

 FCC has a way of making people feel at home, according to longtime member Bill Lindstrom. He and his wife, Julie, moved to the area from Kansas City in 1959 and joined the church at that time. 

Both have been active members of FCC over the years. Julie has been involved in many of the women’s activities there, and Bill has served on the governing board as an elder and a deacon. 

Lindstrom said he and his wife have been “very happy and very proud to be members of the church.”

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