Wheaton Christian Reformed Church held its first formal worship service in May of 1949. From the beginning, the church was a bit unconventional, holding its services in the Masonic Temple in Wheaton despite the Christian Reformed Church’s antipathy toward the Masons. Early members have memories of sweeping up beer bottles from Saturday night’s Masonic events to prepare for Sunday worship.
Wheaton CRC built its own building in 1958, which provided the congregation with stability but didn’t stifle its unconventional approach. During the racial tensions of the 1960s and the “white flight” phenomenon in the suburbs of Chicago, Wheaton CRC was a strong proponent of racial integration and maintained deep relationships with predominately African-American congregations in the Lawndale and Roseland neighborhoods of Chicago.
In the 1970s the church and her pastor, Reverend George Vanderhill, were among those who responded to the homelessness problem in Wheaton by helping to start what has become Outreach Community Ministries. In the early 1990s Pastor John Schuurman and the Wheaton congregation recognized the need for a ministry to Vietnamese immigrants and helped plant Vietnamese New Hope Christian Reformed Church. For the following twenty-plus years the two congregations have worshiped and worked together in both Wheaton and Winfield.
In the early 2000s Wheaton CRC saw the need to update the layout and accessibility of our main building as well as add classroom space for our education programs. These two building campaigns resulted in a more open and welcome lobby in our main facility and a Ministry Center building just across the parking lot with classrooms and a welcoming Fireside Room, facilities that support our ministry and welcome people into our warm and vibrant community.
In our current competitive church climate, Wheaton Christian Reformed Church has responded by joining a group of churches in Wheaton and Glen Ellyn called Christ Together (formerly Renovation), which seeks to collaborate instead of compete for the sake of God’s Kingdom. While this might be unconventional to some, Wheaton Christian Reformed Church has a history of moving toward the community and responding to its current needs. Whatever the future holds, it is likely that the members of Wheaton CRC will respond to it with grace and aplomb, sweeping up beer bottles or soothing racial tensions as needed. In this we demonstrate our tagline: “Gathered by Grace, Sent to Serve.”