The city of Chicago is the third largest city in the United States. According to the US Census, the population of Chicago in 2015 was 2,772,389 and the racial composition in 2014 was 45% White, 32.9% Black, 28.9% Hispanic or Latino, 5.5% Asian, and 0.5% American Indian. Despite Chicago’s racial diversity, it remains one of the most segregated cities in the country, according to the National Urban League. Additionally, 22.7% of residents—nearly a quarter—live below the poverty line. Even so, Chicago, the “city of the big shoulders,” is a robust, dynamic, world-class metropolis. With such racial diversity and socio-economic disparity, ministry in this urban center and others like it requires an innovative, community-centered approach.
Our neighborhood, Uptown, is located on Chicago’s north side and is one of Chicago’s most ethnically diverse neighborhoods. One particular challenge the neighborhood faces is the high concentration of homeless individuals and persons with physical and mental disabilities. Uptown residents are three times more likely to suffer from a mental disorder than other residents of the city. In response to this challenging context, Uptown has become home to dozens of social service organizations and non-profits seeking to aid the least fortunate members of our society. Uptown Porch joins these organizations in service, but with a distinctively Christian character, founded upon our commitment to Jesus’s command to “love God” and “love our neighbors.”
Uptown has unique challenges, but it also has a very positive, dynamic character. The neighborhood is the home of several iconic institutions—The Aragon, The Riviera, and Al Capone’s old haunt, The Green Mill, are just around the corner from the Uptown Porch house. Located just a few blocks from Lake Michigan and a short train ride to the Lincoln Park Zoo, residents of Uptown Porch can enjoy the energy of city life and still escape to the peaceful, natural beauty of our environment.