The mission of Forest Park Baptist Church is to glorify God, encouraging everyone to know and follow Jesus wholeheartedly.
We are committed to the authority of God’s Word
The Bible provides the necessary foundation for Christian faith and conduct.
We are committed to being an ethnically diverse congregation
Since it has pleased God to call people from every tribe, tongue and nation into a relationship with Jesus Christ, it is our privilege to worship with people from various ethnicities.
We are committed to blended worship
The hymns provide a rich heritage for our worship and the contemporary worship choruses enable us to sing a “new song” to the Lord.
We are committed to people, not programs
It is people who enter into the Kingdom of God, not programs. Our focus is on building one another up in the Faith.
We are committed to prayer
Paul tells the believers in Colossians to devote themselves to prayer. Not only do we begin every year with a week of prayer, weekly prayer is a priority during the Sunday morning worship service and on Wednesday nights.
- The Bible is God’s Word given by divine inspiration, the record of God’s revelation of Himself to humanity.
- There is one living and true God, perfect in wisdom, sovereignty, holiness, justice, mercy and love.
- God created an order of spiritual beings called angels to serve Him and do His will.
- God created man in His own image to have fellowship with Himself and to be steward over His creation.
- Salvation is redemption by Christ of the whole person from sin and death.
- The Church is the body of which Christ is the head and all who believe in Him are members.
- Religious liberty, rooted in Scripture, is the inalienable right of all individuals to freedom of conscience with ultimate accountability to God.
- Christians, individually and collectively, are salt and light in society.
- God, in His own time and in His own way, will bring all things to their appropriate end and establish the new heaven and the new earth.
For more information, see our full statement of beliefs.
Our History, 1859-1890
“In the Beginning...”
Although we have been blessed by over 120 years of service in the same location at Harlem and Dixon Avenues in Forest Park, the inception of our church work actually dates back 149 years. In 1862, regular prayer meetings, preaching services, and Sunday School sessions were held in private homes, after a German Baptist family had contacted members of the First German Baptist Church of Chicago three years previously in 1859, to establish a mission work here.
In 1867, our founders built a chapel on the southeast corner of Marengo Avenue and Franklin Street, in what is now Forest Park. The chapel dedication service on September 15, 1867 was conducted by Rev. Philipp Bickel who later became a leader in organizing the Baptist Union of Germany. At the dedication, the hope was expressed that a church would soon be organized. Restricting influences including the moving of members, hindered the work, and the chapel was sold in 1874 for $1200 to the Onward Mission Sunday School conducted by a group from Oak Park.
Then in 1878, Rev. Jacob Meier, affectionately known as Father Meier, pastor of First German Baptist Church of Chicago, located at Paulina Avenue and Superior Street, called a meeting of a few members of the original group who were residing in Oak Park, to revive the work. Through the dedicated and sacrificial labor of Rev. Meier, the founders zealously plunged into the work and the Onward Mission chapel was rented for Sunday School and church work. An effort to repurchase the chapel failed and it was no longer available for rental.
Convinced of the importance and necessity for a church, our pioneering forefathers purchased the present site for $1,000 in 1887. In the following year a chapel was built at a cost of $2600, and two years later the congregation had grown sufficiently to function as an independent church in 1890.
Our History, 1890-1923
“Keeping the Faith...”
On January 22, 1890, ninety-one members of the First German Baptist Church of Chicago were released to our newly organized, First German Baptist Church of Oak Park, (however, located in modern-day Forest Park, and what’s more, the area was then known as Harlem.) The formal organization was celebrated with joyful services and Rev. J. F Hoefflin became the first pastor. The first officers were: deacons, August Einfeldt and Hinrich Krogman; trustees, Rudolph Johns, August Einfeldt, and Christian Schaubel; clerk, Hinrich Krogman; and treasurer, Rudolph Johns.
In less than 10 years the membership grew to 175, so that in 1900 the chapel was inadequate. So, in 1903 the chapel was sold to an Evangelical church and the sanctuary was moved to Park Avenue, one block north of Chicago Avenue in Austin where it remained until replaced by a larger edifice many years later.
The main auditorium of the present stucco building was built in 1903 at a cost of $14,000, and dedicated on June 12, 1904. The building was designed by a member, H. G. Fiddelke, an architect who designed the interior remodeling eighteen years later, and gave us the beautiful stained-glass window of Jesus with the children on the north wall. In 1918, we purchased the cottage adjoining the vacant lot south of the church, and this has been the house of the sexton since then.
Extensive alterations and remodeling in the sanctuary, including a new organ, were completed in 1922-23 at a cost of $21,000. This included lowering the choir “loft” which was up where the organ grill now is.
Our History, 1940-Today
“And Still Pressing On...”
Our name was changed from First German Baptist Church of Oak Park to Forest Park Baptist Church in February 1940.
In keeping with what has always been true of our church, even from the earliest days, we saw the need to remodel the building to add more functionality for our growing church and community. In 1953, remodeling was started on the former parsonage joining it to the church to provide a more complete educational facility at a cost exceeding $55,000. New pews were installed in the sanctuary and choir area, and the chancel was refinished at the same time. This work was completed in late 1954.
Earl Marquardt gave the Schulmerich Carillon Bells to honor his parents who were members of our church, in 1953. At the dedication service in December of that year, the chairman said: “The memorial for the late parents is given because in their lives they honored the Lord Jesus Christ. In their devotion to the church, and in their testimony, they had reflected the songs in their hearts and hope in their inner lives…”
On May 3, 1964, we dedicated our present Moeller pipe organ, a bequest of the late Albert F. Johns. His sons, Harold and Ralph also contributed substantially to this memorial gift which cost in excess of $22,000.
It is evident that our church was founded as a German Baptist Church in a community of German-speaking people. But as their children grew, the need for services in English became increasingly necessary. So, in May 1923, the church voted to have two services in the English language every month, and this plan was soon put into effect. Gradually over the years the use of German lessened. For many years, a German worship service was held at 9:00 Sunday mornings, but commencing April 5, 1964, this service was changed to a German Bible Study at 9:45 A.M. as part of the Sunday School. While some of our members who were reared in German culture felt a temporary loss, they were willing to make the change to foster fellowship and growth. This German Bible Study class continued until 1988 when it merged with the Senior Adult Sunday School Class.
As the years have passed by, the need for expansion and adapting to our community as it changes in the shadow of the most diverse city in America, while yet clinging to the authority of the True Head of our church, the Lord Jesus Christ, has been faced by Forest Park Baptist Church for over a century now. By the grace of God and His good blessing, we pray that it will be a trend we see continue on.
We are proud of our heritage, but we also look forward to the future, praying for those that will come after us, as our founders undoubtedly prayed for us, “that our God may count you worthy of his calling, and that by his power he may fulfill every good purpose of yours and every act prompted by your faith. We pray this so that the name of our Lord Jesus may be glorified in you, and you in him, according to the grace of our God and the Lord Jesus Christ" (2 Thessalonians 1:11-12).