The Early Years:
In the fall of 1893, a minister held a meeting in the farm home of Mr. and Mrs. John Baker at 167th and Dixie Highway. The six people present included the Bakers, their two children, a friend, and Elizabeth Sudds who was assigned to keep track of things and serve as secretary. Other charter members included William C. and Carrie McClintock who were founders of the Village of Hazel Crest. Worship services outgrew the farmhouse and were then held in the old Illinois Central depot which was also McClintock’s real estate office and the village post office.
Elizabeth Sudds’ father, Nathan Sudds, was a professional carpenter. He and another carpenter named Wilheim erected the original church building with the help of other men from the community, who were readily available due widespread unemployment from the Pullman strike. Women of the congregation assisted with painting, hammering, and providing refreshments. The church was a community project. It took three years of volunteer labor, but the building was eventually completed and consecrated on September 12, 1897.
A Period of Racial Integration:
Russell “Russ” W. Koenig and his family came to our church in June of 1968. He served as chaplain of the Hazel Crest fire department. Russ was no stranger to controversy and insisted that we work with the “Study on White Racism” to enforce the open housing laws. In 1969, he received the first minority members, Louis and Carol Marquez. Then, in 1973, Pastor Russ received our first black member, Elner Foster, whose father had participated in the freedom marches in the South.