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Historic Structures of

East Chicago, Indiana

Central Baptist Church

The following pictures and info were kindly provided by Connie Lamka of the
Central Baptist Church:

In August 1930 a group of Christians met in the home of Doyle Clark to pray for God's leading in the establishment of a Gospel Mission in East Chicago. The group met each Sunday in a rented store at 5006 Baring Avenue under the leadership of James Stewart. For a brief time they me in a hall above the Water Works offices at 4733 Olcott Ave., but later returned to the Baring Avenue location. Brother Stewart led the members in organizing of the East Chicago Baptist Church and continued as pastor until February of 1934.

Central Baptist Church, photographed Feb. 11, 2007


Kenneth Beilby, a Wheaton student, was called as pastor to the flock of twenty-seven members in March 1934. A few home-made benches, a used piano, and some well-worn hymnals comprised the material asssets of the church; but deep in the hearts of the members lay rich spiritual assets that were soon to reveal themselves in a great work of faith--the building of their first church sanctuary.

In September 1934 at the close of revivial meetings, in a great step of faith and four dollars in the church treasury, plans were made and approved to erect a 30 x 60 foot tabernacle on whatever piece of property the Lord would provide.

And the Lord did provide! The property at 148th and Northcote was leased for five dollars a month with option to purchase. Working constatntly with much donated labor and materials, the structure was completed in one month's time.

Dedication Day was November 11, 1934, and in March of the following year, the church incorporated and reorganized the seventy four charter members, forming the Central Baptist Church of East Chicago, Indiana. The church thrived, and a larger sanctuary was built that was rededicated November 11, 1956.

Pastors have included the Rev. Robert Johnson under whose ministry the church attendance doubled, and he later left to serve with the Fellowship of Baptists for Home Missions in the forming of new Baptist churches. He led the church in the erection of the Educational Building that now forms the back part of the completed church edifice.

The most well-known pastor may be Warren Wiersbe, who was trained at Central Baptist. The Educational Building was completely paid for during his ministry. He is now broadcast through Moody, and here is a description of his service:

Sunday school in sanctuary, Feb. 11, 2007

"Dr. Wiersbe has pastored at least three churches, the most well-known of which is Moody Church of Chicago. From 1957 to 1961 he worked with Youth for Christ as editor of Campus Life. He joined the Back to the Bible Broadcast in 1981 and served as its main speaker and the editor of the Good News Broadcaster. He has had a prodigious output of books, more than seventy volumes, For a number of years he wrote a column in Moody Monthly magazine, in which he revealed his fondness for quoting unbelievers such as Helmut Thielicke, Methodist Bishop Gerald Kennedy and blasphemous George Buttrick. He had the habit of quoting helpful sayings without pointing out that they came from harmful heroes.

Dr. Wiersbe is a board member of the National Religious Broadcasters. In 1991 he was scheduled to speak (and I assume he did) at Samford University This is a Southern Baptist Convention school which is no bastion of fundamentalism. His fellow speakers were to be Dr. E. V Hill whom we have already identified, Dr. Billy Melvin of the National Association of Evangelicals and Dr. Mack Stokes, a United Methodist Bishop. That seems like covering the religious waterfront in one easy step. He was a main speaker at the 1991 N.A.E. Convention, along with Evangelist Luis Palau. It would be impossible to give a complete list of the schools, missions, retreats and church conventions where Dr. Wiersbe has spoken."

The church has a long, rich history of serving its East Chicago community with children's programs, door-to-door soulwinning, and a food pantry. Visitors are encouraged to participate in the spirited 11:00 a.m. worship service.

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