History of Cicero Bible Church

From its formation in 1892 Cicero Bible Church has always had a passion to stay true to the clear teaching of the Bible as the inspired Word of God, and to passionately proclaim of the soul-saving gospel of Jesus Christ! The town of Cicero was incorporated in 1869, and just 23 years later in 1892 a small band of committed Christians started the Morton Park Church Association. Meetings were held in the Morton Park School House, 24th Street & 51st Avenue. A year later the Morton Park Congregational Church was founded. In that year, 1893, Chicago hosted the famous World's Fair that was the backdrop for Dwight L. Moody's tremendous evangelistic outreach! In 1898 the meetings were moved to the old Morton Park Club House, 24th Place & 53rd Avenue in Cicero.

A wood frame church building was erected in 1903 at the corner of Laramie Avenue and 24th Street. The congregation dwindled to nineteen adults and six children. Some leaders were convinced that the time had come for the church to close its doors. But God had other plans for the church. Providentially God brought William McCarrell, a recent graduate of Moody Bible Institute with two years of study, to fill the pulpit for the first time on Sunday, June 4, 1913. He was invited to continue his ministry for the rest of that summer for $5 per week. The church grew, and he was asked to continue until January of 1914 for $10 per week. The church continued to grow and William McCarrell was officially called to serve as pastor of the church. In order to accommodate the growing congregation and make room for all of the Bible classes, a brick structure was built in 1921 next to the wood frame building.

The church grew until it was bursting at the seams. As the leaders prayed, God led them launch the construction of a new brick building in May of 1927, two blocks to the north at Laramie Avenue and 22nd Place. When finished it would seat 1400 people. Upon its completion, Rev. Mel Trotter delivered the dedicatory address on September 29, 1929. The name was changed at that time to Cicero Bible Church.

Within less than a month of that dedication on October 24, 1929 the stock market crashed and the American economy met with ruin. The terrible depression of the 1930's spread across the nation. In the town of Cicero the company that employed the largest number of workers was forced to lay off thousands of workers. It was the Western Electric telephone company. The payroll was cut from 30,000 to only 6,000. Grief, panic, and distress fell upon the nation. Payments still needed to be made in order for the church to keep ownership of their new building. How could it ever be possible? Billy McCarrell and the Christians of Cicero Bible Church prayed and sacrificed. The church bulletin of October 27, 1935 reported that the valuable items donated that week included one gold bracelet, two gold tooth bridges, one earring, one gold pencil, two services pins, two 14-karat god wedding rings, and one watch fob and chain. The impossible became reality. One of the most memorable actions was that Pastor McCarrell built wooden "Joash boxes" as King Joash did to raise money to repair the temple as is recorded in 2 Chronicles 24. People put money and other items of value in the Joash boxes. A Joash Bank Night was held on December 24, 1935. The final payment on the large, new church building was made in 1943. This was a tremendous achievement accomplished by faith!

Many Christians throughout the United States were distressed as major denomination and prestigious seminaries became theologically liberal. They began to deny the inspiration of Scripture, the deity of Christ, His substitutionary death on the cross, the resurrection of Christ and His miracles, and the need for a person to be born again by God's Spirit. Pastor William McCarrell and the Cicero Bible Church began to assume an important place in the leadership of a movement to hold true to these and other important fundamentals of the faith. During a conference at Cicero Bible Church, June 24-27, 1930, an important association of Bible-believing churches was formed. It was named: Independent Fundamental Churches of America. These churches banded together to forcefully stand for the major doctrines of the Bible in opposition to the apostasy of that time. They also challenged their people to live righteously and to separate from sin and worldly practices.

Rev. Billy McCarrell and his wife Minnie continued to serve the Lord in Cicero. By 1947 the church grew to over 1100 members. That year the church bought the large building across the street to the north of the church. Today it is called the Family Life Center. The church was famous for an evangelistic endeavor called the Fisherman's Club. A group of over thirty men would meet every Saturday to go evangelize by various methods. On the 35th anniversary of the Fisherman's Club it was announced that according to meticulous records that were kept that the men had counseled 533,815 people concerning their need for the Lord, there had been 140,000 professions of faith in Christ, and 17,1543,690 gospel tracts were distributed. Cicero Bible Church started fourteen daughter churches. It operated a radio station and three daily radio programs whose signal reached as far as North Dakota and Texas. The radio program "On Wings of Song" was especially popular. The church operated a printing company called Cicero Bible Press. In 1957 the church was supporting over sixty missionaries preaching the gospel in many foreign nations. Nine hundred children attended the Sunday school classes each Sunday. The choir consisted of fifty singers. Dr. William McCarrell earned the honor of being the longest serving trustee of Wheaton College, Wheaton, IL. In later years the McCarrell Christian Academy offered a Christian education to students pre-school through 12th Grade.

The demographics of the town of Cicero have changed dramatically in the past forty years of the church's 124-year history. Originally Cicero was populated primarily by immigrants and descendents of European nations (many of them of Czech and Bohemian heritage), but now 80% of Cicero's residents are Hispanic. Most of them have immigrated from Mexico and Central America. The congregation of Cicero Bible Church is comprised of all of these ethnic groups and more. We enjoy warm fellowship by our common faith in our Savior Jesus Christ! Currently the church conducts weekly Sunday morning worship services, Sunday school classes for children and adults, prayer meetings, Awana Clubs, women's Spanish ministry, Vacation Bible School, and Chicago Youth Alive Bible Clubs for teens and young adults.

Our Pastors

Dr. William McCarrell 1913-1958
Rev. William E. Currie 1959-1971
Rev. Clinton S. Foraker 1973-1977
Rev. David G. Hill 1978-1985
Dr. Elwood H. Chipchase 1985-1999
Rev. Jose L. Rivera 2001- 2004
Rev. Ron M. Kooyman 2006-Present