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Churches near United Center left praying for guidance during Democratic Convention

Churches near United Center left praying for guidance during Democratic Convention
Churches near United Center left praying for guidance during Democratic Convention 02:36

Pastor Frank Dixon Jr. likes to share tale after tale of the 139-year-old West Side Community Church. He's hoping to add only good stories to the mix after the Democratic National Convention takes place across the street.

The church was here well before the United Center, which is hosting the DNC. Dixon Jr. said his plans are in limbo because the DNC safety plans won't be officially announced until late July.

"I want to know what we're gonna do," he said. "You know, when they do the marathon, they close the streets off. So now I have to figure out a way to have service. Where am I going to go and place the different people?"

West Side Community Church is located within the U.S. Secret Service's anticipated security perimeter. From Monday, Aug. 19, to Thursday, Aug. 22, road closures, parking restrictions, and bus route changes are expected within the zone. 

Some disruptions could begin earlier, possibly affecting people headed to Sunday services.  

"If I have to tell them, 'OK, let's pack up.' We're going to go and borrow somebody else's church that's not affected by it. We go there. I have other friends that we can probably worship," Dixon said. 

But that takes planning. Pastor Dixon isn't the only religious leader praying for some guidance. There are seven churches and an Islamic center within the expected high-security zone surrounding the United Center.

Quinn Chapel A.M.E Church is located within the security zone near McCormick Place, where other convention events are planned.

Pastor Rev. Troy K. Venning said, "If the sun comes up, we'll be worshiping" during the DNC. However, he wonders whether congregants will avoid the area and watch services online instead.

Reverend Walter Arthur McCray of Greater Union Baptist Church, which is near the United Center, isn't worried that he will make it to the sanctuary. He lives only five minutes away. 

His more significant concern is if a congregant passes away during the DNC  and a funeral is needed.

"When you talk about family and extended family and friends and just some of the notoriety of some of the older ones, you have 500 folk up in here," McCray said.  

Secret Service officials will likely allow worshippers to attend services. But it isn't yet clear whether congregants should allow more time to get to the church.  

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