The Illinois Conference is comprised of five associations covering roughly the upper one half of Illinois. In these associations, both our commonality and our diversity are realized. Each association brings a unique flavor to who the conference is, allowing us to celebrate the many ways God calls us to be the church in this world.
The Chicago Metropolitan Association’s 103 congregations are spread across the beautiful city and out into its near suburbs. From neighborhood churches to suburban congregations, church families centered on ethnic traditions and those focused on multiracial, multicultural celebrations, sprawling buildings, house churches and the largest congregation in the United Church of Christ, CMA is rich in heritage and worship experiences. Active in one of the most diverse areas of the nation, CMA provides as varied a presence of the UCC and represents the intricate web of our wider church as people struggle together over issues, meet each other in the middle in ministry partnership, and lift one another up in shared hope.
The Eastern Association is made up of 41 congregations who leave their footprints upon some of the most traveled land in the state. Crossed by Interstate 74 connecting the country from east to west and Interstate 57 keeping the path of commerce open from north to south, Eastern Association reaches out to students of a Big Ten college campus and families along the Illinois Canal. This association is the only one land-connected to all of the other associations in the Conference, as well as two other conferences, giving it the unique opportunity to be point of mutuality and connection for the Illinois Conference.
The Fox Valley Association is 44 churches strong. It stretches from the western and northern suburbs of Chicago to the rolling hills of the Fox River Valley and down into the fastest growing communities in Chicago area. Its unique blend of city life, established suburbs, and growing communities bring people of all walks of life to the UCC congregations in its area. The churches in this association extend the invitation of “no matter who you are or where you are on life’s journey – welcome in towns so established there is little room for diversity, and in towns so new they have practically sprouted up over night, leaving people searching for places to share and grow their faith.
The Prairie Association is home to one of the industrial hubs of Illinois, Rockford, as well as the Northern Illinois University campus and one of our Illinois Conference Camps. Its people gather in white clapboard buildings with tall steeples in rural communities, and large, echoing stone buildings in bustling urban areas, and everywhere in between. Tradition and innovation are a rich part of the heritage of the 40 congregations that make up this association.
The Western Association is located in the lower portion of the conference, on the western side of the state. Its 34 congregations gather people to worship from the state capital of Springfield to the Quad City town of Moline, from prairie to river, farm to metropolis. With the challenges of the life of rural communities and the struggles of Illinois state government in both its front and back yards, Western Association congregations bring a presence of justice and compassion where it is often needed most.