Our Church History

Cosmopolitan United Church was formed from two churches in June 1972. Cosmopolitan’s predecessor, the United Church of the Medical Center (UCMC) – located at 606 Ashland Ave, Chicago, IL – was formed by the union of the former St. Paul United Methodist Church and the Third Presbyterian Church. On February 8, 1972, the Presbytery of Chicago approved and adopted the Articles of Agreement. On June 8, 1972, the Northern Illinois Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church (UMC) approved and adopted the Articles of Agreement.

Articles of Agreement

The Articles of Agreement contained the statements of ministry which set forth the vision of ministry to the Medical Center complex and the surrounding neighborhoods. Since 1972, the congregation has become an international metropolitan community. The building served as an important meeting place for groups from the Medical Center, various international communities and for denominational gatherings. Both by location and commitment, the UCMC was in a position to address concerns of the Medical Center Community, the issues affecting the diverse people of the metropolitan area, and worldwide religious and justice issues.


When the congregations merged, Rev. Dr. George Shreiner and Rev. Dean Overholser retained their spiritual leadership roles as co-pastors. In 1980, when Dr. George Shreiner, the UMC pastor, retired and Bishop Jesse DeWitt and the Cabinet appointed Rev. Leo Constantino. In 1986, Rev. Constantino was appointed as Assistant General Secretary by the Bishop and the General Board of Pension and Health Benefits of UMC. Reverend Judith Kelsey-Powell was appointed by the Bishop and Cabinet to replace Pastor Constantino as the United Methodist Pastor. Pastor Kelsey-Powell led the flock in its move to its present location in Melrose Park.

After a period of Methodist and Presbyterian co-pastors of UCMC, the Northern Illinois Conference, the Presbytery of Chicago, and the Church Council decided that a more effective ministry would result if one pastor focused on the church and the other on the Medical Center. From this decision, the Medical Center Ministry (Chaplaincy) was born. Though they have separate boards and lines of accountability, the Medical Center Ministry shared a space in the UCMC building. They maintained a good sense of mutuality and recognized their interdependency. Another significant offshoot of the evaluation was the decision to have the pastoral appointment to be United Methodist and the Chaplaincy, Presbyterian, USA.

From the early 1980s to 1994, UCMC was involved in litigation when Rush St. Luke Presbyterian Hospital made an unwanted offer to buy the church facility. The local papers described the court fight as the battle of David and Goliath. UCMC, with the help of the Northern Illinois Conference and the General Council on Finance Administration of the United Methodist Church persevered.

In early 1994, the litigation was settled amicably and Rush St. Luke bought the facility at the prevailing market price. The proceeds of the sale were used to purchase the building in Melrose Park, IL that was previously owned by First Presbyterian Church, and was the home of the former Melrose Park UMC.

A New Name

On May 22, 1994, the UCMC adopted a new name – Cosmopolitan United Church, and held its first service in Melrose Park!

A few weeks later, Rev. Judith Kelsey-Powell was appointed to Morgan Park United Methodist Church. In her place, Bishop R. Sheldon Duecker and the Cabinet appointed Rev. Scott Shreve.

Pastoral Appointments

Following Rev. Scott Shreve, the changes in pastoral leadership are as follow:

Rev. David JamirJanuary 1998 – June 30, 1999
Rev. Digna CampananoJuly 1, 1999 – June 30, 2003
Rev. Bienvenido F. HayagJuly 1, 2003 – June 30, 2006
Rev. Randy CreathJuly 1, 2006 – December 2008
Rev. Robert Preston PriceFebruary 1, 2009 – June 30, 2009
Rev. Kye Ile HongJuly 1, 2009 –


When UCMC moved and changed its name, there was a minor shift in mission. Where before UCMC provided pastoral care, worship, and education for the congregation at the same time concentrated on a campus ministry especially with international students in the Medical Center area, Cosmopolitan United Church’s mission statement now read:

Cosmopolitan United Church – an international community of faith.

In Metro Chicago serving as a gateway to new life. We believe the church is the redeemed worshipping community, faithfully responding to God’s word of truth, love, justice and compassion as revealed in Jesus Christ. We believe it is our task to: witness and declare God’s saving grace in Jesus Christ and invite others to walk with us in faith, nurture disciples in their understanding of Christian faith and practice and enable them to be responsible participants in the work of the ministry – live as a servant people.

The congregation of Cosmopolitan United Church is not only international; it is also interdenominational.

Though administratively United Methodist and Presbyterian, everyone is welcome. On June 5, 2011, Ascension Sunday, the congregation rejoiced to gather 7 nationalities under one roof: Chinese, Filipino, Haitian, Korean, South Asian, Thai, and American.

On July 1, 2022, Cosmopolitan United Church welcomed its new pastor – Rev. Dr. John Marc I. Sianghio. Pastor John worked closely with former Cosmopolitan Pastor Juan Pablo to enable a smooth transition.

LGBTQIA+ Affirmation / Reconciling Ministries Network

Cosmopolitan United Church spent many months studying and discerning the scripture and LGBTQ community. On November 12, 2022, the congregation held a community discussion around becoming an open and affirming / reconciling church. On January 15, 2023, which landed on Civil Rights Sunday, Cosmopolitan United Church voted UNANIMOUSLY to be an open and affirming congregation, loving, and accepting in fullness all individuals, including those that are a part of the LGBTQIA+ community.

With great joy, on March 28, 2023, we joined the Reconciling Ministries Network and committed ourselves and our church to LGBTQIA+ justice within and without the church!

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