In 1926 a Sunday School was started in the home of Max Conrad at 9414 S 54th Avenue, in Oak Lawn. The Sunday School continued to meet at the Conrad home until 1929 when it outgrew the home. In the fall of 1929, the Sunday School was moved to a store front at 5137 West 95th Street. Within a few months, this ministry adopted “The Mission” for its name. Attendance grew to 85 and the facility was no longer adequate. In the Spring of 1934, under the acting pastoral leadership of Mr. Walter Bach, the Mission became a branch of the Cicero Bible Church. One year later, on May 6, 1935, the Church organized and became Oak Lawn Bible Church with a charter membership of twenty-one persons. On May 13, 1935, the Church became a member of the Independent Fundamental Churches of America. Later, on September 22, 1935, Mr. Bach was ordained to the ministry of our Lord and became the first Pastor called by Oak Lawn Bible Church. After much prayer, the Executive Board decided to take steps towards building a new church to accommodate its growing work.
As it was the time of the Great Depression and many men were unemployed, building a church seemed like a total impossibility. Mr. C. Peters, a California resident, upon hearing the need of the church, donated 75 feet of land, or three lots, on 54th Avenue. But there were back taxes and assessments due on the property amounting to $500. A building committee was appointed by Pastor Bach and the committee decided to pass out banks to the congregation as a reminder to pray for the need to pay the taxes and assessments and to give as they were enabled by God. The banks were passed out on May 22, 1935 and were to be returned on September 29th. When the banks were returned, prayer had been answered and the tax expenses and assessments were met with $40 to spare. The $40 became the seed for the building fund.
In the summer of 1936, the Church began its first building program. Ground for the new church building was broken on March 31, 1936. One brother offered to dig the foundation, then supplied all the sand and stone, while another friend supplied all the cement. On June 5, the foundation was finished and ready for brick. The brick and some of the lumber came from buildings that had been torn down. The flag stone and rocks that make up the designs in the brick work came from the creek that ran along the church property and the canal banks which are no longer visible. The steel beams which support the floor of the original building were donated by a junk man who happened to stop by to see what the men were constructing. The brick was laid by who ever could give of their time during the day. The volunteers worked diligently all summer.
On June 14, 1936, the cornerstone, with the words of John 3:16 carved into it, was laid in place. A metal box containing a Bible, the doctrinal statement of the church, pictures and other articles were sealed into the wall. At this time, Mr. Carl Krout and his family came from the Cicero Bible Church and put in many hours of labor in finishing the building.
On Sunday, November 8, 1936, the Sunday School members marched from the old meeting place at 5137 W. 95th Street, down 95th Street to the new building and the new church building was officially dedicated to the Lord’s service and the first service was held.
Continued outreach 1953-1976. As the work and ministries grew, so did the congregation. On September 9, 1953, the members approved the action of the Official Board to erect an educational addition to the building. Ground was broken for the addition on Sunday, May 9, 1954. The wing was constructed across the back of the church and was completed and dedicated on November 11, 1956. At this time, the sanctuary platform was also remodeled and the baptistry was installed.
At this time, local public schools were experiencing a "student boom" and kindergarten classes were being withheld to accommodate primary grade students. In 1957, the congregation gave approval to being a Christian Kindergarten under the direction of Mrs. Virginia Hovey who had been a public school teacher. Many area children attended and the kindergarten grew to four classes with four teachers. The school continued until 1977.
In 1976, the sanctuary was again remodeled and updated under the leadership of Pastor Curtis Loux and Mr. Royal Stephenson, chairman of the Building Committee. Shortly after these improvements, a ravaging flood of 7 feet of water completely destroyed the church basement. Walls, windows, classrooms, offices and the kitchen all had to be rebuilt. Many church records were also lost at this time. God supplied the necessary funds and labor to complete repairs and renovations with the year.
In 1980, due to new growth and with an average of 255 in attendance on Sunday mornings, a two service schedule was implemented. The Church Growth Services Organization was hired, under the direction of Pastor Daniel Lupton, to develop a plan for better use of the church facilities. Many changes were recommended, including the proposal of a new church site and building. A New Site Committee, led by Jacob Kats, Jr., began searching for a 4-5 acre piece of ground for a new church building. No progress was made, however, due to the high cost of property and interest rates at that time. After many meetings and much prayer, the decision was made to stay on the original church land and expand.
A New Construction Committee was appointed with Harry (Pete) Kats as Chairman. There had been a home purchased just north of the church a few years early which was used as the Youth Pastor's residence. It was decided that this home would be torn down to make room for a new addition.
Blueprints for a new sanctuary with a fellowship hall in the basement were drawn up by the Church Growth Services firm. The 'working out of God's plan' for this addition took six years. Finally, in March of 1986 ground was broken and construction began on the new 400 seat sanctuary. The cornerstone was laid on November 9, 1986 and the building was completed and dedicated on April 5, 1987. A mortgage had been secured in the amount of $625,000 in 1986. On February 1, 2001, the mortgage was paid in full, 17 months before it was due.
The Senior Pastors of the church have been- Rev. Bach, who served until 1961, Rev. Everett Hovey, who was installed as Youth Director in 1955 and called as Pastor in 1961, Rev. Curtis Loux, who served from March of 1964 to January 1978, Rev. Daniel Lupton, who served from March 1978 until August of 1989. In November of 1989, Rev. Chris Ranley was called and served until November of 1993. Pastor Robert Wheeler was called to Oak Lawn Bible Church in July of 1994 and currently still serves as Senior Pastor.
Faithful to God’s Word and the Great Commission, OLBC supports over half a dozen missionaries worldwide, even as it continues locally in worship, nurture and evangelism.
To watch a video about our 75th Anniversary, click on the photo at right.