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In 1919, Marquette Manor Baptist Church originated on the south side of Chicago as an offspring of Bethany Baptist Church. Encouraged by the pastor of Bethany and under the influence of church member, Mrs. Stewart McDonald, several families gathered for Sunday School in the McDonald’s home. During the following year, this small group of believers rented a portable schoolhouse to host the Sunday School hour. Soon the portable school was too small to accommodate the growing congregation.
In May 1921, under the guidance of Reverend F. G. Detweiler, a University of Chicago student, the believers moved a few blocks to a clubhouse. At this location, Marquette Manor held its first business meeting in which twenty-four charter members voted to accept the constitution and covenant and to elect deacons and officers. A few months later, Pastor Detweiler completed his PhD and moved away. In October of that year, E. M. Salter became pastor and served in this position for fifteen months.
In May 1923, the church extended a call to F. C. Schaffer to take the pastorate. Under Pastor Schaffer’s ministry, the church established a building fund and purchased property for a new building. A devoted lady in the church gave the first donation of $18. The people built a small bungalow on the new property and in October, the congregation of 150 walked from the clubhouse to their new building. Within a year, membership tripled. Three years later, Pastor Schaffer resigned because of illness. The church then called Reverend Einor O. Odegard to serve as pastor.
Under the ministry of Pastor Odegard, the church purchased more property to build a larger facility. However, the Great Depression took a toll on the church and by 1931, Marquette Manor Baptist Church lost its entire savings when its bank failed. Pastor Odegard held evangelistic meetings in a tent on the church property in order to encourage members and remind them of the purpose of the church. The meetings resulted in a revival and sacrificial giving to the building fund. In October that same year, Marquette Manor broke ground for its new building and from April 1932, the church held a special week of dedication.
Years later, Pastor Odegard was diagnosed with terminal cancer. Following Pastor Odegard’s passing, assistant pastor, Jay Ronald McDonald, accepted the position of senior pastor. Under his guidance, Marquette Manor expanded their sphere of influence by constructing an educational building, strengthening the youth ministries, involving church members in the Pacific Garden Mission and the Chicago Rescue Mission, and establishing other forms of community outreach.
In 1953, Pastor MacDonald accepted the call to become assistant pastor at Fourth Baptist Church in Minneapolis and to continue his seminary training. After a year of searching for a new pastor, Marquette Manor extended a call to Dr. George J. Carlson. Pastor Carlson’s influential ministry was cut short in a plane crash while on a hunting trip in Ontario in 1957.
Five months later, the church called Dr. Bryce B. Augsburger to be pastor. Augsburger’s passion for evangelism and missions led Marquette Manor to start a new church in Lockport, Illinois, which Marquette Manor supported for several years until the church became independent.
In 1961, the Fundamental Baptist Fellowship International called a meeting at Marquette Manor, which resulted in the formation of Baptist World Mission. Pastor Augsburger accepted the position as the first president and incorporated BWM in Illinois. Four years later, Pastor Augsburger left the pastorate at Marquette Manor to become president of Denver Baptist Bible College.
In December 1966, Dr. Wayne Van Gelderen, Sr. assumed the pastorate at Marquette Manor. Under Pastor Van Gelderen, the church purchased twenty acres in the suburb of Downers Grove. Three years later, the church held a groundbreaking ceremony for the new extension. The suburban chapel was completed in 1970. Pastor Van Gelderen preached Sunday morning, Sunday evening, and Wednesday night prayer meeting at both the city and suburban locations.
Additionally, in 1970, Marquette Manor started a Christian day school for grades Kindergarten through third. By 1972, the school expanded to twelfth grade and officially became Marquette Manor Baptist Academy.
On January 10, 1976, the city church caught fire in a blaze caused by defective wiring. After prayer and discussion, the church decided to focus its attention on the suburban location; and during a special business meeting in 1980, the members voted to sell the city property.
The loss of the city church made greater the already obvious need for more space. By 1980, the church finished its expansion project, complete with an auditorium annex, an office wing, an educational wing, and a gymnasium.
In 1992, after twenty-seven years of service, failing health brought the ministry of Pastor Van Gelderen to a closure. During the next eight years, under the pastorate of Dr. Mark R. Simmons, the auditorium was remodeled, the missions prgram expanded, and the Centurion Classic began. In the year 2000, Dr. David C. Canedy was called to be the Senior Pastor, and the church continued to spread the gospel through various ministries such as: the Centurion Classic, the Centurion Youth Clubs, children’s Summer Day Camp, Sforzando String Camp, Faith Promise Missions, and Reformers Unanimous.
Over the years, Marquette Manor has gone through times of both great blessing and intense trial. Through difficulties, the faith and sincerity of the people has been tested. To the glory of God, each trial ultimately strengthened this body of believers and united the core members in the desire to honor Jesus Christ.
Currently, under the leadership of Pastor Dave Schlagel, Marquette Manor remains faithful to its founding purpose. As the original missions statement proclaims, “Marquette Manor Baptist Church has only one excuse for existences, to proclaim Christ as Savior in order that men may know Him, and knowing of Him, might yield themselves to Him as their Savior and friend, to this end we are organized as a body of believers.”