You may not know or believe it, but there is actually a $68 million state-of-the-art facility and church in the West Pullman area on the South Side of Chicago! You may be like me and never even knew such a place existed, but it’s true, and it’s real, and it’s beautiful, and now I’m even proud to say it is MY church! Yes! It is the Salvation Army Ray and Joan Kroc Corps Community Center located at 1250 W. 119th Street in the heart of the West Pullman area on the South Side of Chicago.
If you arrive at the Kroc Center by taking I-57 and exiting at 119th Street, you will see exactly what I mean. From the moment you see the big yellow building in the distance, you know this place is something different, special, and I dare say, even magical. The yellow complex just stands out in the vastness of the community of homes, and even stands in the backdrop of the infamous Johnny Coleman’s Christ Universal Temple Church. However, once you see the Kroc Center, you realize that this place isn’t about church competition or that it was placed there to take away from anyone or anything. The Kroc looks like Dorothy’s yellow brick road turned into Alice’s “wonderland.” In case you can’t tell yet: I LOVE THE KROC CENTER!
But it’s not just me. You will feel this way too. And it’s because, when you enter, immediately to your right is the water park area complete with water slides, vortex pool, lap pool, and competition pool. My twin 5yr. old daughters just love going in by themselves into the wade park and then up and down the slides. As a matter of fact, they had their birthday party at the Kroc Center this past January on one of the most treacherously coldest days that month. But that didn’t deter us. We swam and played like it was July, and that’s due to the amenities of the Kroc. If you can just get there, the party will go on!
Then there’s the five basketball courts fashioned after the Chicago Bulls courts. There is the Academy of the Arts where people of all ages can take piano, guitar, singing, dance, art, and various other classes. There’s the Fitness Center which is the department in which I work and absolutely love because for the first time in my life, I can teach classes and during, and especially afterwards, I can pray IN THE NAME OF JESUS! And do you know why I can do this?
Because the $68M Ray and Joan Kroc Corps Community Center located on the South Side of Chicago is actually a church run by the Salvation Army! Who knew? I surely didn’t. I didn’t even know the Salvation Army was a Christian denomination in and of itself with Salvationists in over 126 countries! Here I was thinking that they rang bells at Christmastime to raise money for all the old furniture and used clothes in their Salvation Army stores, having no clue to the level of impact, support, and love they give to people all over the world–which now includes me and my family.
As a writer, I know it’s in poor taste to mix a metaphor by having Dorothy’s beautiful yellow brick road combined with Alice’s twist of fate down that hole into Wonderland, but for me, I think it’s a stroke of genius and completely symbolic of my experience of learning about the Kroc Center which began as a tour and developed into my working as a fitness teacher, and now worshipping at the Kroc Center as one of their newest soldiers. And in that spirit, I will share how today reminded me of Dr. King’s famous words.
Today we concluded Black History Month as a family at the Kroc by having a beautiful worship service followed by a pot luck dinner in which friends, family, and guests were encouraged to stay and enjoy. I was blessed to have a gentleman and his wife join us for church and dinner whom I just met earlier this week in one of my fitness classes. He and and his wife had a great time and left by saying that they had been fed both spiritually and naturally so, and I just felt blessed and honored to have been a catalyst in them having an enjoyable experience at our church because no one would know looking at them of the pain they’ve endured from their son being murdered four years ago which they shared with my husband and I. I was glad to give them love and joy as they continue on in this journey of life.
But this whole experience of the tour, and then the job , and now feeling called to serve in the Salvation Army is just like Dr. King said: “You don’t have to see the whole staircase. You just have to take the first step.” I’ve taken some steps now where there is no turning back, and me and my family are so glad. To Dorothy, there was no place like home. For me, there’s no place like the Kroc! Really and truly, there IS no place like the Salvation Army Ray and Joan Kroc Corps Community Center.
For more information about The Kroc Center, visit our website. And if you’d like to visit my class or our church, email me. I’d love to have you as my guest!
About Me: I’m a wife and mother of six daughters whose ages range from adult to five-yr. old twins in pre-K. My passions are many and they include loving God, my family, and my career as a fitness instructor and spokesperson. I know what it feels like to ride the roller coaster of emotion from being overweight or thin as a rail unable to fit anything due to health complications I’ve endured due to the stress of having Crohn’s disease. However, I am now enjoying being in the best shape of my life which I have been able to maintain and enjoy due to the Body by Vi 90-Day Challenge. I even won $1,000 last year for losing 10lbs on the Project 10 Challenge where when you lose, a child wins! You can learn more information about The Challenge by visiting my website or sending me an email to email@example.com.