Willow Creek `mega-church' has big hopes with launch of its first Chicago location
By Jeff Long
Tribune staff reporter
Published October 2, 2006
...Pamela Gomilla, an African-American woman who lives in Chicago's Edgewater neighborhood, entered the historic Auditorium Theatre in the Loop on Sunday not sure what to expect from a church service with roots in mostly white suburbia...
Willow Creek’s Chicago debut
Signature service draws crowd of 2,000 to Auditorium Theatre
By Ed Fanselow
Daily Herald Staff Writer
Posted Monday, October 02, 2006
...The inaugural service was the latest milestone in a whirlwind year for Willow Creek, which now counts an average weekend attendance of more than 20,000 in South Barrington and its three satellite campuses in DuPage, Lake and McHenry counties.
In January, Hybels announced that the congregation was pledging more than $1 million to fight AIDS and poverty in Africa, and in July, the church was named as the most influential in America by a popular Christian magazine.
A few weeks later, Hybels and newly recruited Willow Chicago Pastor Steve Wu inked a one-year lease with the theater, the stately Romanesque-style building at the corner of Michigan Avenue and Congress Parkway that has become one of Chicago’s most cherished landmarks since hosting its first event, the 1888 Republican National Convention.
The building’s prominence isn’t lost on Wu, who said he was looking for a hook to draw in so-called “unchurched” Chicagoans as well as 20-somethings who have moved into the city and away from their family churches and college campus worship centers.
Many there Sunday said they learned about the service from billboards in CTA buses and at el stations...
Suburban megachurch opens Chicago satellite