Lights, Camera, Action!


Freelancers Anonymous is a comedy feature film about women who tech! Directed by Sonia Sebastian and written by Amy Dellagiarino and Lisa Cordileone, the movie follows Billie as she finds herself on a quest to start her own business. Frustrated with always being taken advantage of at work, Billie quits in pursuit of doing something more fulfilling, and runs into an eclectic group of women looking for the same. They pool their talents together to start developing an app, but run into more problems than they accounted for.

The cast features an ensemble almost entirely made up of women and stars Lisa Cordileone, Natasha Negovanlis, Alexandra Billings, Jennifer Bartels, Megan Cavanagh, Mouzam Makkar, Amy Sheils, Cassandra Ward, Jenny McNulty, Haviland Stillwell, Grace Rex and Jamison Scala.

Bethany United Church of Christ plays a central role in our movie, being both the home base for the freelancers to begin their business, and the spot where Billie and her fiancée Gayle are planning to have their wedding. Freelancers Anonymous (the movie) is the first piece of a larger trans-media company, Freelance Anonymous LLC, which is geared towards closing the gender gap in STEM industries and focusing specifically on women and those in the LGBTQ community.

Freelancers Anonymous is produced by Full Spectrum Features, in association with Black Apple Media.

Growing Veggies, Growing Community

The raised beds we built and planted with money from the Council Discretionary Fund are popping: pole beans and cucumbers are stretching toward their trellises; tender greens have — so far — evaded the plentiful Ravenswood rabbits; and the tomatoes have all kinds of blossoms.

The gardens don’t yet require much weeding or harvest but there is work to be done.  Can you join Rebecca on Thursday afternoons at 4, or sign up for some weekly maintenance before or after church on Sundays?  Look for the “gardener” slot on the summer Sundays sign-up sheet.

Whether you like to garden or not, you are welcome to the food we are growing.  Take home some basil for pesto, other fresh herbs, or, in a few weeks, arugula.  This year, our garden goal is only to enjoy the project of growing food together, and enjoy eating it!


You don’t want to miss worship this July! We’re introducing a new worship theme for the summer called, “Feast.” This is the season of picnics and cookouts, the time of year when fresh produce is in abundant supply, and every weekend holds three more neighborhood festivals. Feasting is a Christian tradition, the opposite of fasting; it’s part of our faith to throw parties and eat great food! So we’ll be throwing a party every Sunday morning, July 9-30, complete with special decorations and festive coffee hours. We’ll explore the stories of great meals in the bible and ask what it means to be people of the feast. Mark your calendars! Cancel your vacations! Come party with us at Bethany this July.

Adopt a Feast

Each week during our Feast theme, we’d like to have an extra special spread of food that people can enjoy during the service. We are looking for folks who would be willing to host these feasts on July 23 or 30. You would bring food and help make the tables beautiful. You could work with the ministers to choose something to go with that day’s theme or just bring some of your favorites. If you’re interested, please contact Vince at

A Feast For Justice

On the final Sunday of our Feast theme, we want to celebrate by providing a feast for others as well. We’ll be taking a special collection of cans and other non-perishable items to donate to Common Pantry. Items on their wishlist this summer include:
• Cereal
• Soup
• Oatmeal
• Rice
• Canned Fruit
• Easy Prep Meals (such as Rice-A-Roni)
• Vegetable Oil
• Cooking Oil
• Condiments (ketchup, etc)

Faith to Table - Feast Worship at Bethany in July

You don’t want to miss worship this July! We’re introducing a new worship theme for the summer called, “Feast.” This is the season of picnics and cookouts, the time of year when fresh produce is in abundant supply, and every weekend holds three more neighborhood festivals. Feasting is a Christian tradition, the opposite of fasting; it’s part of our faith to throw parties and eat great food! So we’ll be throwing a party every Sunday morning, July 9-30, complete with special decorations and festive coffee hours. We’ll explore the stories of great meals in the bible and ask what it means to be people of the feast. Mark your calendars! Cancel your vacations! Come party with us at Bethany this July.

Bethany Has Pride

At Bethany Church we are proud to be an Open and Affirming congregation, welcoming people of all sexual orientations, gender identities, and expressions into the full life of our church. We want to show and share our Pride this June with a Pride worship service on June 25th after which we will march together in the Chicago Pride Parade! We’ve already got our spot in the parade with the other congregations from the Chicago Coalition of Welcoming Churches, and t-shirts are in the works, all we need is your feet in comfortable shoes! Sign-up in church this month or by contacting Vince.
The Chicago Coalition of Welcoming Churches is also sponsoring a Pride Brunch and Reception on Saturday June 17th, from 10am-12pm at the Unitarian Church of Evanston. RSVP to by Wednesday, June 14th.

Bethany Grows

After storms delayed our first attempt, the raised garden beds are IN! On Thursday, May 25th, about 8 folks worked to construct the beds and haul 2 cubic yards of soil to fill them. The hardest work was digging up the sod.  As of this writing, my legs are still killing me.

What’s next: We’ll plant seeds before June 1 and work to get some rabbit-proof fencing (if it exists) up around each bed before the seeds pop, and before we add any seedlings.  Then, there’ll be weeding (although not much this year, with that clean new soil), watering, and harvesting.  Want to take some basil home with you after worship? Do it!  Want to make some zucchini bread with the monster squash we let get too big? Fantastic.  These gardens, this year, at this scale, are for the joy of growing and sharing food here at Bethany and with our neighbors.  See some dad showing his kids how to pull a carrot out of our garden?  Awesome.  They’re welcome to it.

I’ll be in the gardens on Thursday afternoons (join me?) and more briefly on Mondays but keep your eyes peeled for additional work days and times.

Rev. Rebecca Anderson

Council President's Annual Report

With the 2016-17 year at and end, I am realizing just how much Bethany has accomplished in this past year.
We began the year by welcoming Ann Ridge to the Church Council to replace Georgette Tarnow.  Other continuing members were Dean Arnold, David Digel, Kathy Rodriguez, Sara Haas, Linda Zawada, Alicia Ervin and Judy Beaupre.  Sadly, Linda had to step down mid-year due to health issues, and was replaced by Adam Franklin.

The highlight of the year—and a primary reason why we have accomplished so much—was the hiring of a new team of pastors, Vince Amlin and Rebecca Anderson. In the eight months they have been here, they have brought energy, enthusiasm and a renewed sense of community to our congregation. They have infused our worship services with sermons that have been meaningful, timely and relevant.  Although we were sorry to say goodbye to Beth Dickerson, who had served as our interim pastor for almost two years, we are happy to be embarking on a new phase in the life of Bethany. In recent months, we have welcomed 11 new members to the church, as well as a growing number of visitors to our Sunday worship services.

We continued to rent space to a number of outside groups, We renegotiated our agreement with Pilgrim Lutheran School, which uses our gym for basketball and volleyball practices, to more effectively cover the costs of maintenance that we envision in the future. The Chicago Montessori School continues to be our primary renter; this partnership is currently critical our financial stability.

During the year, we undertook initiatives designed to spruce up the church building and reclaim areas that had fallen into disrepair. Under Kathy Rodriguez’ leadership, the nursery was cleaned, painted and recarpeted, and Scott Beaderstadt used his artistic talents to paint colorful animals on the walls. We also devoted two weekend days to cleaning out the rec room and disposing of many years’ worth of collected items and unusable furniture that had accumulated (Thank you, Adam Franklin, for using Craigslist to help with this).  The project is not totally complete, but now have one outside group using the space on a regular basis.

Our annual stewardship campaign brought in pledges of $47,540 for the year.  Once again, we offered the option of online giving, but the majority of gifts still come in the form Sunday envelopes.

In addition to continuing our traditional mission projects—working with Night Ministry to provide meals, both on the street and at the Crib, a shelter for homeless youth—we partnered with Pilgrim Lutheran Church and School to cosponsor a refugee family.  Many members of the Council and congregation have been involved in this project as mentors, tutors, donors and worker bees. We work with our family, a single Rohingya Muslim mother from Burma and three daughters, twice a week. Helping them learn English and find a new apartment closer to other Rohingya immigrants are our biggest challenges at the moment. In April, we held a successful chili and dessert cook-off to raise money for the project, making more than $2,500.

I want to extend my thanks to Bethany’s members, and particularly to those who served on Council, for making this year a successful one.

Judy Beaupre, President BUCC Council

Music Director's Annual Report

This past year was a very active year at Bethany United Church of Christ.  Most recently, we had a wonderful Easter service where my long time good friend Keven Keys shared his beautiful operatic voice with the congregation.  He was accompanied by a fine string quartet comprised of members of four-time Grammy award winning group Eighth Blackbird along with Adam Davidowitz who teaches violin at the church.  Listening to the string quartet, I was reminded of all the places Yvonne Lam, the violinist and Nick Photinos, the cellist have played (as in Carnegie Hall and Kennedy Center to name a few) and I was so moved to hear such first rate music making take place at our church.

 Keven Keys and I have been friends for many years, and I have always been in awe of his magnificent voice.  He enjoyed singing in our beautiful church and I loved hearing his voice fill the space.  

It has been a very rewarding experience to share music with Bethany every Sunday.  All of my friends who regularly play for us enjoy the experience as well.  It means so much to me to have congregation members come up to us and thank us for sharing our gifts.  But what people may not realize is that it is such a gift for us to perform at Bethany.  Playing music at a high level can be quite stressful, and it is so nice to be reminded that the reason we play music is to share and to touch people.  I have been saved many times by the experience of sharing music at Bethany on Sundays and I thank you all for the opportunity.  I hope we can continue to make music together and be an integral part of this community.

Yasuko Oura, Music Director

Pastor's Annual Report - Rev. Rebecca Anderson

What a year it has been for us all.
When we met you, we knew that hiring two pastors was not what you had imagined. In some ways, the decision to do so represented risk for the congregation.  I am grateful, and know Vince is too, that you took the risk. Already, it’s abundantly clear to me that the risk – to hire two pastors, to configure our pastoral work in the ways we have – was worth it. It’s hard to believe that we’ve been church together only since the end of September.  In those 8 months, we’ve seen not only growth but also signs of potential for yet more new life. 

For me, the great pleasure of our life together is Sunday worship. (Of course, worship is the beating heart of any Christian community.) While staying true to the “DNA” of worship at Bethany — including the beautiful music led by Yasuko — we have stretched ourselves in joyful ways. We’ve reintroduced or added poetry, children’s sermons, new forms of music (sung by pick-up choirs, but also by you in call-and-response, learning new pieces from around the world) and, a particular favorite of mine, bells on Easter! To me, our worship feels traditional in the best ways and at the same time, fresh. 

I am grateful to be in this work with you, expanding our presence here on Paulina and Cullom, in Chicago at large, and in the world. There is imagination for how better to welcome our neighbors, through a perhaps updated iteration of the Living Nativity, and: will we start holding summer evening events on the lawn again? There is imagination for how better to speak out for justice in Chicago, as Melissa and Ryan Andrews, among others, have been bitten by the Community Renewal Society bug: how can we use community organizing to strengthen our church and advocate for others? There is imagination for how to be the body of Christ in the world in this particular moment: with Judy’s leadership we have had the chance to welcome refugees in very real ways.  And the historic work of the church continues as well, held by many hands.  I look forward to inviting even more Bethany friends and members into that work.

Entering in any relationship is a kind of gamble on the future, a promise built on possibility, hope, and trust. In so many ways, you have welcomed us into relationship as your pastors. I am grateful for the welcome and grateful to be church with you.

Pastor Rebecca Anderson

Pastor's Annual Report - Rev. Vince Amlin

An unofficial theme that Rebecca and I have had for our nearly 8 months of ministry at Bethany is “People live here!” What that means to me is finding ways to reveal to neighbors, renters, and to ourselves the small but dynamic community which is living and growing here. We have a big, beautiful building which can nevertheless serve to hide the liveliness inside. Likewise, there are parts of our building that haven’t been needed in a while and require attention to be attractive and welcoming. We’ve tried to look at things with an outsider’s eyes and ask how we can make the many special things about Bethany more visible.

To this end, with the staff and members of Bethany, we’ve prioritized restoring and beautifying our spaces. We’ve done little things like replacing the deteriorated cork boards outside fellowship hall and big things like cleaning out the entire Rec Room! We’ve still got lots to do, but as we’ve done this work, we’ve made room for new uses of these spaces. We’ve invited renters into rooms we weren’t using, and we’ve started using redone rooms for our own programming. Rebecca has used the analogy of stretching out back into our building. We now use our Sunday School room twice a month, for instance, and this month we’re holding a small group on prayer in the redesigned pastors’ office.

Restarting Sunday School and continuing the offering of adult education here are some of the ways we signal to visitors and neighbors that this is a healthy and worthwhile community. Likewise, our work of outreach and service in the world are vitally important. I am so proud of our congregation for jumping into the work of sponsoring a refugee family with Refugee One while continuing our regular outreach work with The Night Ministry and The Crib. I am especially glad to have had such excellent congregational partners in this work as Ravenswood UCC and Pilgrim Lutheran. Their generosity and steadfastness have been good examples for us.

Rebecca and I have tried to find lots of ways to make Bethany present in the community and invite folks into our life here. At Advent and Lent we used worship themes both to create cohesive and beautiful worship experiences for those already present and to attract new visitors. As part of these themes we brought in accomplished outside storytellers and increased the visibility of Bethany’s already outstanding music; we opened up our worship space to the community with “Ashes on the Go” in before and after school hours; and we got out in the community as a congregation with events like “Beer and Bible.”
I believe that as visitors have come in they’ve experienced worship that is consistently powerful, thought-provoking, and inspirational. I hope you feel the same way. I’m grateful to have welcomed 11 new members to Bethany over these first 8 months, many of whom had already been attracted to this congregation while Pastor Beth was here. I’m grateful for her work here, for Yasuko’s excellent programming and performing of music each week, for Shaun’s work of administration and design, and Jurek’s expert maintenance. I want to say a special thanks to the Church Council and to our moderator, Judy Beaupre for their excellent work on your behalf this year and for their assistance to me as I learn the ropes in this first year. 

I have loved working at Bethany this year. I could thank each of you by name for your warm welcome of me and of my family and for your support of my ministry. Thanks for signing up for things, showing up for things, and being willing to try new things. There is great life in this community indeed, and I am excited to be a part of showing that life to our community and continuing to watch Bethany grow!

Pastor Vince Amlin