Honoring Our Past, Embracing Our Future
Historical Milestones – In The Beginning
The presence of African Americans in the Chicago area began with Jean Baptist Point DuSable establishing a trading post at the mouth of the Chicago River and become its first settler. Early Chicago records indicate that the first Black population was around 1,000 in the 1860’s. Chicago’s White abolitionists were helpful in providing a safe passage from slavery to the Promised Land. It is estimated by 1910 the population had increased to 40,000, the beginning of the first wave of The Great Migration. As more Negroes came to Chicago they started to settle in other parts of the city. One of those communities was called LILYDALE at the northwestern tip of ROSELAND. It was a farming community where wild lilies, cabbage and onions grew. The boundaries are 91st street on the north, State Street on the east, 99th street on the south, and the Chicago Western Indiana Rail Road (now Chicago and Eastern Illinois Rail Road).
The first Baptist Mission in the Lilydale community was formed on Sunday April 20, 1913 with seven residents. It was held in the home of Isaiah and Jennie Bridgewater at 9344 South LaSalle Street. The other founding members were Edward and Patsy Eason, Rev. Emmanuel and Della White, and Mary Johnson. St. James African Methodist Episcopal was the only other church in LilyDale at the time.
After one year of worship the founding members established the First Baptist Church of Lilydale on June 28, 1914. Rev. Charles D. Trice was elected the Pastor.
The First Twenty-Five Years (1914-1939)
A wooden frame church building was constructed by the members from 1915-1917 and brick veneer was added in 1924. Pastors during this time period were: Rev. E. W. Lowery (1915-1916), Rev. Emmanuel W. White (1916-1918), Rev. W. W. Franklin (1918-1922), Rev. A. J. Davis (1922-1924), Rev. Jesse Coleman (1924-1926), Rev. William Moore (1926-1930), and Rev. Emmanuel White (1930-1954) second pastorate. The first church wedding was Mr. Sam Jackson to Miss Ruby Floyd. The infrastructure of the church develops including various auxiliaries and Lilydale 1st Baptist Church became known as the community Baptist church.
The Second Twenty-Five Years (1939-1964)
City architect Robert Taylor is commissioned by Mayor Edward Kelly in 1943 to build Princeton Park homes to accommodate the growing Negro population in Chicago as a result of the Second Great Migration. The church membership increases due to new homes built on the north and south side of 95th street. Pastors were: Rev. Emmanuel White, Rev. Charles C. Yates (1954-1956), Rev. Wendell L. Johnson, Sr. (1956-1983). Membership grew exponentially during the pastorate of Rev. Johnson and the church edifice was renovated inside and out. Lilydale celebrated its 50th Golden Church Anniversary on June 7, 1964, with Mrs. Dolores Jackson Morris serving as chairperson. Isaiah Bridgewater, founding member is still alive.
The Third Twenty-Five Years (1964-1989)
The Ulysees Turner Memorial Scholarship Fund was formed on May 30, 1970. Rev. Johnson led the congregation to search for a new church home and the church moved into the current edifice, 649 West 113th Street, on Sunday September 24, 1972.
Eight trustees used their homes as collateral, namely: Dec. Major Chatman, Dec. Tommie Coleman, Dec. Julius Glenn, Mr. Wendell Johnson, Jr., Dec. Willie Richardson, Dec. Robert Russell, Dec. Norman Turner, and Dec. Daniel Wearring. The church mortgage was burned after ten years on March 25, 1982.
In October 1983, Rev. Alvin Love was elected Pastor and membership grew exponentially, again! Lilydale became affiliated with the National Baptist Convention, USA, Inc. In 1986, then Community Organizer Barack Obama mets Pastor Love. He identified Lilydale First Baptist Church as his first church ally.
The 75th Church Anniversary was celebrated in 1989 with Mrs. Dolores Jackson Morris serving as the general anniversary chairperson.
The Fourth Twenty-Five Years (1989-2014)
The Cradle Roll, Baptist Youth Fellowship and the Golden Agers ministries were formed to provide additional spiritual development to a growing population of young people and the aged. In 1991 the Lilydale House was purchased at 11311 S. Union and later became the parsonage. Renovations continued to the church and sanctuary and church purchased a 32 passenger Touring bus.
Lilydale continued its community involvemnet in serving Sheldon Heights and Roseland neighborhoods and was a Founding member church of The Developing Communities Project (DCP) and the Lilydale First Baptist Foundation, 501 C 3 not for profit organization was also create
Church with spiritual continued with the creation of Edward Eason Leadership School. The Rev. Dr. Alvin Love Adult Scholarship and David Allen Scholarship were created.
In November, 2013 Rev. Dr. Alvin Love celebrate his 30th Pastoral Anniversary becoming the longest Serving Pastor of Lilydale!
In 2014 was the 100th Church Anniversary and Deacon Kenneth and Sister Kimberly Scott served as chairpersons.The Testimony of 100 Years History Book, started by Dolores Morris in 1989, was completed in 2014.
The Second Century of Ministry (2014-Present)
Lilydale First Baptist has two ministries: The Intercessory Prayer Ministry where callers can access the prayer line Monday – Friday mornings. The BRIDGE Ministry was formed to address the needs of our young adults, ages 21 to 39 years.
The Sunday Church School began a church-wide recruitment, mailing letters to all of the membership, inviting them to attend a Sunday School class.
Sis. Deloris Jackson, President of the Senior Ushers, and Dr. Shelby T. Wyatt, Supervisor of the Junior and Young Adult Ushers, were both inducted into the National Ushers’ Hall of Fame.
The membership of Lilydale First Baptist voted to upgrade our facilities to make them handicap accessible and conducive to ministry in the 21st century. As of June 2016, we have begun a Capital Campaign to raise $1.2 million dollars, to help ensure the project is paid-off within five (5) years of its completion.
Associate Ministers serving at Lilydale First Baptist:
Minister Leonard Evans, Minister Anthony Jones, Reverend Andre Kellum, Reverend Mary Momon, Minister Julius Slaughter, and Reverend Parris Williams II. Reverend Dr. Thomas Savage, Jr., who currently serves as Youth Pastor at Mount Calvary Baptist Church in Chicago.
*Compiled by the Lilydale First Baptist Church Historical Society