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Happy Easter from CHM!

Image of crowds standing outside the Fourth Presbyterian Church

Happy Easter! In this image, a crowd stands around the Fourth Presbyterian Church for an Easter parade along North Michigan Avenue, just south of Delaware Place, in 1927. The church recently celebrated its sesquicentennial.

On February 12, 1871, Fourth Presbyterian Church was formed with the merging of the North Presbyterian Church (founded in 1848) and Westminster Presbyterian Church (founded in 1855 as a mission church of the First Presbyterian Church of Chicago). The name “Fourth” is a bit misleading. The term was selected not because it was the fourth Presbyterian church to be founded in Chicago—there had been several established previously, with North Presbyterian as one of the earliest—but because it was the lowest number not in use at the time. The new congregation worshiped at Superior and Rush Streets from 1874 until 1914, when it moved to its current location on North Michigan Avenue, which became known as the “Magnificent Mile.”

Home to wealthy congregants and influential pastors, Fourth Presbyterian soon earned a civic and national reputation befitting its magnificent Gothic structure. Called “a social settlement with a spire,” the church reached out to the poor in the nearby “Little Hell” neighborhood. It helped create Presbyterian Hospital in 1884, which is now part of Rush University Medical Center, and it seeded sister churches in the city’s immigrant enclaves. Social activism continued during the twentieth century, as members tutored children at the nearby Cabrini-Green public housing project and inmates at Cook County Jail. In 1979, the church helped to create Atrium Village, an innovative mixed-income housing development.

Known throughout its history for preaching, community outreach, education, music, and the arts, Fourth Presbyterian Church has positioned itself as a model for mainline Protestantism in the new century.

Learn more about the history of Protestantism in Chicago in our Encyclopedia of Chicago entry.

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