The joy of Easter begins.
During the late spring of 1948, the Mission Board of Northern Illinois held meetings in the home of Mr. George McGee in Bellwood to discuss the feasability of starting a mission church in the area. The basement of the old Lincoln School on Wilcox Ave., near Linden, was rented for services. This was a portable bilding with a foundation and basemen. The first service was held July of 1948 with Dr. Klink of Concordia conducting service. Rev. Semmes and Mr Amling representing the mission board appointed Mr. H Kopp treasurer and Mr. G. McGee as financial secretary. The South Bellwood Lutheran Church was started and services were held every Sunday in the basement of this old school building.
In early November 1948, the Mission Board assigned the Rev. Harold W. Hitzeman as temporary pastor of the Mission Church. The first meeting of our church was held November 23, 1948. at the home of Mr. N. Katschke at 912 S. Bellwood Ave. in Bellwood. Rev. Hitzeman and eight men were present. At this meeting it was decided to form two groups, a men's club to meet the 3rd Tuesday of every month. Meetings to held at the homes of the members. The men's club was to work for the organization and growth of the church, but also plan and hold social activities. The temporary Voter's were to see to the business of the church.
In February 1949, the new Lincoln School was ready and the Mission Board rented the whole building for our use. Our services could now be held upstairs and these facilities were much better. The members of the church had to clean and maintain the building including banking the coal furnace on the way to work in the morning, and at night. All meetings were now held in this building.
A search for property for our own church had been going on since our first meeting, and after many disappointments, the Mission Board purchased a lot 121' by 126' on the corner of Linden and Monroe in Bellwood. on March of 1949. A portable chapel was to be erected on this site to be used by our church. When we build a permanent structure, this chapel was to be moved to some other mission area.
At a Voter's Meeting on April 20, 1949, our first constitution was approved and we became a congregation. Pastor Hitzeman was formally called as our first pastor and he accepted. Officers of the Voters elected and the following Charted Members of the Voters signed the constitution.
Mr. W. Brady, Mr. G Barrington, Mr. A. Schaper, Mr. P. Hurbanis, Mr. W. Lange, Mr. N Katschke, Mr. R. Houf, Mr. G. McGee, Mr. P. Pittelko, Mr. F. Romanus, Mr. K. Thompson, Mr. F. Fiddelke, and Rev. H. Hitzeman.
In May of 1949, all communicant members of our church were given the opportunity to vote for a name for our church. FAITH received the most votes and that became our name and it is still to this date.
After some delay and much hard work, the chapel was ready and it was dedicated with three services on September 25, 1949. During these years, a Ladies Aid was formed, a Vacation Bible School held, Sunday School was expanded, and the church was growing. The Mission Board wanted to start another church in Westchester, and would not take our advice that there were not enough Lutherans or potential Lutherans for two churches in the area.
In February 1951, Rev. Hitzeman accepted a call and our first pastor was gone. The Rev. Cal. F. Broecker accepted Faith's call and he was installed in July 1951. A group in Westchester started a Sunday School in the home of Bob Sullivan, and on December 14, 1952, a service was held in the village hall. Sunday services continued in the village hall conducted by Rev. Broecker. In March of 1953 the Mission Board finally decided that there should monly be one church in the area, and wanted Faith Lutheran to look for a site where the church could be built, It was at this time that Rev. Broecker accepted a call. A call was extended to Rev. Norbert A. Reinke who accepted and was installed in September 1953.
Title to the land where our church now stands was secured in the fall of 1953. Ground for our church was broken in May 16, 1954 and the cornerstone was laid on July 18, 1954. The property in Bellwood was disposed of during the winter of 1954. The first service was held in our new building on Palm Sunday, April 3, 1955, and the building was dedicated with three services on May 15, 1955.
In 1956 Faith Church informed the Mission Board that we no longer required their financial help and we became a self-sustaining church. In August of 1955, Rev. Reinke accepted a call and we were again without a pastor. The Rev. Myers was called. He accepted the call and was installed in November 1955. Our church continued to grow.
In July of 1958, ground was broken for a parsonage on the lot just north of the church. This not only provided needed living space for the pastor, but also the basement furnished needed space for meetings and Sunday School. This parsonage was dedicated on January 18, 1959.
In October of 1962, Rev. Myers received and accepted a call, and again we were without a pastor. The Rev. Eugene P. Roeder accepted our call and was installed as our pastor on January 20, 1963.
We still needed more space and negotiations were entered into in 1962 to purchase the house north of the parsonage. In January 1963 we finalized the purchase. We made some improvements and the pastor and family moved into this building.
To help complete the appearance oif the church, the steeple was installed in April 1967. The mortgage burning took place in the worship service of April 1, 1973. The Berghaus pipe organ was installed and dedicated December 17, 1978 with the late Dr. Herbert Gotsch as guest recitalist. Finally, stained glass windows were dedicated on November 1, 1981.
A retirement dinner was held for Rev. Roeder on September 16, 1990.
Pastor Constien became our pastor in 1991. He then accepted a call to Mokena Illinois in 1995.
Pastor Kermit Walk was installed on March 24, 1996, and retired in July 1999 fro Faith.
Accepting a vacancy call, Rev. Elton Heimsoth came out of retirement to be our vacancy pastor on October 3, 1999.
Around this time, another major renovation occurred. We added a special lift and a side entrance that allowed the lift to be covered, and another set of stairs off the parking lot.
A member of the congregation since birth, David L. Prentice, Jr. was called by the Holy Spirit to enter into the seminary. The route to ministry was by way of Delto, an alternate route that took 5 years of study. He had on site vicarage and was mentored by Rev. Heimsoth for those 5 years. He was installed and ordained as pastor in January 2006. At that time, Rev. Heimsoth stepped back and said, "its your show now".
Pastor Prentice continues as our pastor. We are not as big as the "old days", but we continue to preach the Word (in season and out), teach the Word, and administer the Sacraments in a right manner. For how long? Truly, only the Lord knows.
If you are looking for a confessional and liturgical church, this church is for you!
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