Our History

Immanuel Christian Reformed Church

Moved by the Spirit of God, the Chicagoland Christian Reformed Board of Missions in 1958 extended a call to Evangelist Dirk Aardsma and his wife to begin a community outreach ministry in what is now Burbank, Illinois. From a beginning of just two boys at the first Sunday School class on June 1, 1958, God blessed the hard work and each week additional people began to attend the services. In September of 1961 our original building, consisting of a chapel and classrooms, was officially dedicated to the glory of God.

God continued to bless the ministry, using a number of Christian Reformed families anxious to use their gifts and talents to serve the Lord. Steady growth of commitment by community families brought the chapel to the point where it was ready to become a church. In May 1973 the chapel was officially organized to become the Immanuel Christian Reformed Church.

Efforts to obtain a pastor were blessed by God and, on June 10, 1974, Rev. Gary P. Hutt and family arrived. God continued to bless, and soon our worship center and education facilities became overcrowded. In September 1975, a proposal to build a new worship center and additional classrooms was overwhelmingly approved by the congregation. The dedication services in January 1977 gave us the opportunity to thank and praise God for his goodness. In January 1982, Pastor Hutt accepted a call to Oregon.

Rev. Lester Van Essen, who had just completed 20 years of work as a missionary in Nigeria, accepted our call and came to us in August of 1982. Under Pastor Van Essen, God continued to bless Immanuel as we continued to grow spiritually and in community outreach. The addition of an enlarged foyer and three additional classrooms in 1991 brought our church facility to its present size. In November 1993, Pastor Van Essen accepted a call to Lansing, Illinois.

Rev. Alvin Machiela accepted a call to become our pastor in January 1994. Pastor Machiela challenged us to lead holy lives and to be encouraging to one another. Under his leadership the importance of prayer was stressed and the worship team became more active in planning the worship services. Pastor Machiela accepted a call to Oregon in August 1996.

Stephen K. Rhoda came to us from Calvin Seminary as an interim pastor in August 1996. In January 1997, Immanuel extended a call to him to become our next pastor. He was ordained and installed in April 1997. Through his faithful preaching and teaching of God’s word, individuals and families were drawn closer to God. Many people have commented on their spiritual growth under Pastor Rhoda. In January 2002, Pastor Rhoda accepted a call to Sioux Center, Iowa.

Rev. Gerry Van Dam was called from Farmingham, New Mexico to become our next pastor in 2004. During this time we celebrated God’s goodness and faithfulness at Immanuel’s 50th anniversary.   We spent the weekend celebrating and embracing past and present members, friends, and supporters.  From near and far we came together to remember how we have enjoyed “Life With our King” at Immanuel over the previous 50 years. In 2011 Pastor Gerry and Immanuel Church decided that God was leading us to part ways. Pastor Gerry went on to pursue a career in Hospital Chaplaincy.

In early 2013 Immanuel was led to call David Ten Clay to be our Pastor. Pastor Dave came to us from Roseland Christian Ministries, where he served as director of housing and facilities manager. He was ordained to the ministry of the Word in our church on March 3, 2013. He brings a renewed level of enthusiasm and a restored spirit of unity. Under his leadership we have a new projection system, website, and have welcomed a variety of new members and worshipers. In November, 2019 Pastor Dave accepted a call to Hudsonville, Michigan.

After a long and comprehensive search process leading to the goal of becoming a bilingual ministry, God has answered our prayers. Pastor Israel Ledee accepted the call to be our next pastor, and we have welcomed Pastor Israel and his wife, Mariana, to our fellowship.

God has continued to bless the willing efforts of his people and we look forward to many more years of worship and serving the community in the southwest Chicago area. Truly, God has been good. To him be all the honor and glory.

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Church Leadership