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
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.