A History of God at Work for 85 Years
In June of 1929 a group of 160 people signed a charter to form a new independent church called the Wheaton College Interdenominational Church. The church met on the campus of Wheaton College. This was just before the stock market crashed and at the front end of the Great Depression.
In 1934 we called our first pastor, Kenneth A. Amsler. Later we renamed the church "Wheaton Bible Church" because (our) faith and practice stand on the foundation of the Bible, which is the inspired, infallible, and inviolable Word of God. In 1935 and still during the Depression, we purchased property at the corner of Cross and Union Streets in Wheaton, Illinois. Members sacrificially gave $30,000 toward the new building while not forgetting the missionary and current expense budgets. We dedicated our first building in March 1936. Very soon our Sunday school rooms overflowed. People often came forward after worship services to accept Christ.
In 1940 we called our second pastor, J. C. Macaulay. Four years later we started a Sunday school ministry that became Pleasant Hill Community Church. The Christian education ministry flourished and in 1947 a two-story education facility was added. In 1952 the church welcomed its third pastor, Rev. Malcolm Cronk. God used Dr. Cronk's love of the Bible to grow the congregation and start others. Members left to start Countryside Chapel in 1955, Evangel Baptist Church in 1958, and The Village Church of Carol Stream in 1960. By 1958 we had added a second morning service. We continued to purchase homes around the church and in 1960 we dedicated a new sanctuary building on the corner of Main and Franklin Streets in Wheaton.
Dr. Richard H. Seume became our fourth senior pastor late in 1967. An excellent Bible expositor, Dr. Seume served faithfully until a serious kidney ailment ended his ministry with us in late 1970. In 1971 the church called Rev. Christopher Lyons to serve as its fifth pastor. We soon added an 8:15 Sunday morning service and started our Vanguard Program for senior adults. In 1982 we completed a three-story Christian education building. Dr. Lyons left in 1986 and in 1987 Dr. David P. Krentel became our sixth pastor. While he was here we started a Hispanic Sunday school class that evolved into Iglesia del Pueblo. With the fall of communism in Eastern Europe, he also contributed significantly to the construction of a new building for a sister church in Deva, Romania.
In 1994, we called Pastor Rob Bugh to become our seventh senior pastor. One of the first things Pastor Rob did was to clarify the church's mission, vision and values. Soon a contemporary service was added. By 1997 we were offering four worship services, including a Hispanic service. God used Pastor Rob's ministry to grow our church and His Kingdom. There was an increased emphasis on reaching the world for Christ. Our Hispanic ministry grew to a fully functional congregation of more than 400. The Children's Sunday School continued to break attendance records. Student Ministries packed out Main Street Chapel, and we had about 20 Adult Communities. After a thorough study of future ministry options, we took a visionary step of faith by voting to purchase 47 acres of land for future expansion and the purchase agreement was finalized in October 1999.
God continued to grow our church and Christ’s Kingdom. In 2005, we launched Step Out/En Marcha, our capital campaign, to pay for our new campus at North Avenue and Morton Road in West Chicago, IL. God moved our people to give more than $19 million in cash and commitments. We broke ground and began construction in 2006, but more than buildings were being built. God used this time to grow our ministries and our faith and to unify us as a church body. In 2007, we adopted a new mission statement: love God, grow together, and reach the world. It almost immediately provided our ministries clarity and focus. On July 20, 2008 we met for our first services in our new building.
Following the move to the new campus on North Avenue in West Chicago, both the Wheaton Bible Church and Iglesia del Pueblo congregations grew in numbers—reflecting a greater focus on making disciples of Jesus Christ and helping others to do the same.
We also added or increased our ministry “on ramps” for connecting with more and more people—both those who were new to the Christian faith or and for those new to our expanding ministries—in an increasingly diverse community (racially, ethnically, and socio-economically).
This included the initiation of Alpha—a 10-week class for adults to explore the meaning of faith from a Christian perspective. Then, following the common belief that the church “is a hospital, not a country club,” we also encouraged a culture of humble transparency—expanding our recovery groups, family support ministries, and introducing the new Re|Engage marriage ministry.
With the move to West Chicago, God also opened many doors to serve and reach out to those in need within our immediate region. Understanding that the Gospel we embrace is not a social gospel, but it is a Gospel with social implications, the church launched the Puente del Pueblo ministry in West Chicago. It soon became the largest social service provider in West Chicago, offering case management services for families, adult literacy programming, summer programs, and after school programming for children and youth.
In 2015, Iglesia del Pueblo, while continuing its ministry in Spanish, added a second worship service in English. The church and its two congregations also saw a dramatic increase in involvement in both global and local outreach, including the support of 90+ missionaries or mission partners globally, GO Teams, Hunger Team, CareFest, Refugee Resettlement, Adoption and Foster Care, and Administer Justice.
In the fall of 2016, Wheaton Bible Church took the first step in responding to what we believe is God’s call for us to reach out to a broader region—to the nearly one million people in surrounding communities who are not attending any church where they can hear about new life in Jesus, and who would be more likely to visit a church nearer their homes.
On September 11, 2016, a second campus was launched in Streamwood, Illinois—under a new campus pastor, Wil Franco. Starting with a core team of 150 adult volunteers from Wheaton Bible Church and Iglesia del Pueblo, Tri-Village Church meets at the international headquarters of the Awana youth organization, and is dedicated to serving the people who live in and around the communities of Streamwood, Bartlett, and Hanover Park.
It is our prayer that Tri-Village Church will be the first of a number of new churches we hope to launch across the region in the coming years, as we recommit to our mission that more and more people would join us as together we love God, grow together, and reach the world.