The minister encouraged us this Christmas to make a “leap of faith” during the upcoming year. It’s not easy for us to trust the unknown, but I’ve seen plenty of positive risk-taking in Forest Park.

Ever since Ferdinand Haase took a chance and left his home in Germany to buy farmland here, many have placed their faith in Forest Park. For example, Reverend Bill Winston started a storefront ministry on Madison and guided its growth into a mega church.

Two Fish, Centuries & Sleuths, Honey & Thyme and other Oak Park businesses, made their leap of faith across Harlem Avenue. Meanwhile, homegrown enterprises such as Brown Cow, Team Blonde and Louie’s Grill expanded their locations or moved to larger quarters – their faith firmly in the future of Forest Park.

I respect anyone who has the faith and courage to open a business in this sour economy.

Chris Guillen Photography would be included, among the other shops and restaurants that are new to Forest Park.

Marty Tellalian has faith that he will be elected mayor, while Matt Walsh attempts the leap from high school student to commissioner. It takes guts for anyone to run for office, even incumbents.

I greatly respect the leap of faith Marie Beckman and Rose Krogh made when they began collecting groceries from homeowners for our food pantry. Their trust in the giving hearts of fellow Forest Parkers has been greatly rewarded.

We wouldn’t have a community garden, if it weren’t for its founders placing their faith in Forest Park. We wouldn’t have a dog park, or a volunteer group to care for colonies of stray cats either.

Residents showed their belief in the village by supporting referendums for our schools, park and library. So far, our faith has been rewarded. The reorganization of District 91 has created a better learning environment for students and staff. Our library launches one dynamic program after another. And we cling to the faith that something good will come from the Park District buying the Roos property.

When village officials purchased the grove at Altenheim, it was a leap of faith. Many Forest Parkers have since enjoyed the green setting for concerts and festivals.

I see blind veterans placing trust in their guides as they navigate the streets of Forest Park to regain their mobility.

Whenever our police officers or fire personnel respond to a call, they’re forced to make a leap of faith. The same for residents who join our military, with no guarantee they’ll see Forest Park again.

I enjoyed that Christmas sermon, but it was the birth story that brought tears to my eyes. I was reminded how having a baby can be a leap of faith, and I was so thankful that our daughter Kelly and her husband are due to take that leap this summer.

John Rice is a columnist/private detective, who has seen his business and family thrive in Forest Park. He thoroughly enjoys life in the village and still gets a thrill smelling Red Hots, watching softball and strolling through cemeteries.