The following article is reprinted from a 1978 brochure written for a special community church openhouse. No author was listed.
“This is right, for the hand of the Lord is in the matter.” These were the words of Ellen White when Dr. David Paulson showed her the Hinsdale property and told her of plans for the work here. On October 12, 1907, in the old Oak Street Parlor, a church was organized. In a three o’clock afternoon service with Elder William Covert officiating, twelve charter members voted to accept into the church 36 others by letter or on profession of faith. The Sabbath School had been organized in 1904 and soon had two senior classes and one children’s class.
The Hinsdale Church was accepted into the Northern Illinois Conference of Seventh-day Adventists on February 6, 1908, during its Fifth Annual Session.
The first minister was Dr. David Paulson who spoke in a clear rapid voice and believed that Mrs. White’s counsel settled any controversy involving a subject on which she commented. In 1908, the new Sanitarium gymnasium was completed and became the place for meetings. Wooden folding chairs were set up Friday evening and taken down on Saturday night in time for the march and games. These were participated in or watched by the whole church family. This was remembered as a period of time when they were a close, happy group, working and playing together.
The Sanitarium chaplain was also the minister for the church. Many were unusually gifted men. Elder Lamson, attorney-at-law, of keen mind, educator of thorough knowledge and sympathetic minister, served through two separate terms. Between the two terms, Elder Hoopes, former college president and Bible teacher, won hearts by his kind, gracious manner until he was laid to rest in Bronswood Cemetery.
During Elder Hoopes’ ministry, vespers was held in the new San parlor where patients were guests and sat in the front rows of rockers. They also shared with church members, stereopticon lectures, home talent programs, and concerts of chamber music by the Hoope daughters and the Watts brothers.
Probably the first evangelistic effort here was the tent lecture by Dr. P. T. Magan in 1909. Every possible avenue was used to win souls fo,r as Dr. Paulson said, “God is in the saving business.” Four adults from the Life Boat Home were baptized at the Chicago South Side Church who lent their baptistry until 1920 when a new chapel was built containing one. The chapel was partly below ground in the first brick addition to the San, later named Anna Pedersen Hall, after the tenth charter member.
By 1927, the membership was 300, the tithe paid was $22,000, which was more than 10 percent of the hospital payroll.
In 1942, the San needed the chapel for medical purposes, so back to the old gym went the church service. Some brought blankets, not only to soften the old chairs, but to provide warmth. During the war years, the servicemen were sent literature and letters, the Dorcas rolled bandages and knitted for the Red Cross, and the building fund was started in earnest by Elder O. J. Dahl, the last pastor who also served as chaplain.
Our first sanctuary, with a seating capacity of 500, was dedicated with 366 members on December 27, 1947, and G. R. Carter as the first full-time pastor. Who could imagine that, just ten years later, growth in membership would demand two services! In 1957, Pastor Richard Fearing became our pastor and by fall of that year, he was holding two church services.
Attempts were made to solve the problem by encouraging members to establish a church in another community. During 1960, Hinsdale sponsored the establishment of a church in Downers Grove. In 1962, members assisted with the establishment of the Elmhurst group. In spite of these two new churches, the problem of being overcrowded remained.
In the fall of 1963, Elder S. K. Lehnhoff came to pastor the Hinsdale Church. Through his leadership, an Expansion Committee was formed and worked
diligently to present alternate plans — one was to enlarge the sanctuary by adding Sabbath School classrooms, another was to build on the Brayshaw property or purchase land and build a new church elsewhere. These plans were studied and discussed until 1966 when it was voted to build a new church plant.
A business meeting was held in February 1968, attended by Elder Pierson, president of the General Conference. Other G. C. representatives at this meeting included Elder Emmerson, Elder Neal Wilson and Elder Paul Bradley. With this leadership and encouragement, it was voted to give the church board authority to obtain bids. At this time, those who preferred a smaller church banded together and formed the Oak Brook Church.
On February 27, 1970, the first service was one of consecration by Elder F. W. Wernick, our Lake Union Conference president. The Sabbath morning sermon of dedication was by Elder R. H. Pierson, General Conference president. In the afternoon, Dr. C. W. Becker gave the Dedication Organ Concert on the new Rodgers organ. It was exciting to have our church family together again worship.
The cost of our present church building totaled $1,186,788. During this same time, an expansion program was developed at Hinsdale Junior Academy totaling $119, 845, plus the purchase of additional land bordering the school property which totaled $30,987. Today, this indebtedness is dissolved. What hath God wrought! We praise Him for continual blessings to us and the liberality of His people!
As we continue to learn and share within this place, let us pray with Whittier these words that graced our bulletin so many years–“O Master! Deign this church to bless this House of Prayer, this Home of Rest, and let its doors and gateway be to lead us from ourselves to Thee.”