A Brief History of the Chinese Evangelical Free Church of Greater Chicago
It has long been the desire of Rev. and Mrs. Donald Carlson, retired Free Church missionaries to China and Hong Kong, to plant a Chinese-speaking Evangelical Free Church in the Chicago metropolitan area to meet the needs of the growing ethnic Chinese population. In December 1987, during a reception in honor of the Rev. Kim Hoi Chan, President of the Evangelical Free Church of China, the idea of starting a Chinese Evangelical Free Church was shared by Rev. Carlson, Rev. Chan, and Dr. Simon Chung, a layman. They also learned at that time that several Chinese families in the area had in fact been interested in starting a Cantonese-speaking church. Convinced that it was God's leading, Rev. and Mrs. Carlson helped to organize a bi-weekly Bible study, meeting in the homes of these families. The group was also blessed by the ministries of Pastor Man-Chee Kwok and the Rev. Stephen Kwok, both pastors of the Chinese Evangelical Free Church of China and were pursuing studies at the Trinity Evangelical Divinity School. Rev. Samuel Chung from the Olivet Narzarene University provided much of hte leadership in the beginning. They were joined also by Dr. Maureen Yeung who was also pursuing studies at the Trinity Evangelical Divity School, and Ms. Stella Siu, a graduate student in counseling at the Wheaton Graduate School provided much leadership and assitance for the fledgling congregation.
In the ensuing months, the group increasingly felt God's guidance towards the formation of a Church to further its visions as a community of Christians and to evangelize the ethnic Chinese population. With the help of Rev. Carlson, the first Sunday Worship Service was held on September 11, 1988 in facilities graciously provided by the Arlington Heights Evangelical Free Church, Arlington Heights, Illinois. Rev. Donald Carlson served as the Church's Advisory Pastor until he went to be with the Lord in July, 1989. At the same time, Rev. Samuel Chung, a former Free Church pastor from Hong Kong, joined the group and later became an Advisory Pastor. With the help and guidance of Rev. Curt Foss of the Great Lakes District Office, a Steering Committee was formed in November, 1988 to ponder and guide this church planting ministry.
On April 15, 1989, the Steering Committee decided that the group shall proceed to incorporate as a Church affiliated with the Great Lake District Conference of the Evangelical Free Church of America. The decision was unanimously approved by the congregation. On October 9, 1989, The Chinese Evangelical Free Church of Greater Chicago was accepted into membership of the Great Lakes District of the Evangelical Free Church of America at its Annual Conference in Moline, Illinois. Dr. Simon Chung attended the meeting and received the Certificate of Membership on behalf of the Church.
On December 10, 1989, the first membership meeting was held with twenty-two persons admitted into charter memberships of the Chinese Evangelical Free Church of Greater Chicago. Rev. John Hsu was Worship Service speaker and Rev. Curt Foss, then Associate Superintendant of the EFCA's Great Lakes District and member of the church's Steering Committee, gave the charge and conducted the induction of the founding members of the church.
On March 10, 1990, A Thanksgiving Service and Installation of the first Church Board was held in the chapel of the Arlington Heights Evangelical Free Church.
Pastors and Workers
Rev. and Mrs. Donald & Margarite Carlson pastored the beginning of the church. Rev. Manchee Kwok then provided much of the leadership and ministry between 1989 and 1996 until his return to teach at the Evangel Seminary in Hong Kong. Rev. Stephen Kwok, Rev. Samuel Chung, Dr. Maureen Yeung, Ms. Stella Siu, Rev. Kim-Hoi Chan, Rev. and Mrs. Robin Fung, and Rev. and Mrs.Ernest Lui who were at various times pursuing studies at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School, Olivet Nazarene University, and Wheaton Graduate School also were important contributors to the Church's ministry.
In 1996, Pastor Gary Chan, a graduate of the Trinity Evangelical Divinity School and church member at the time was called to be the Church's first full-time pastor. He was suceeded in 1999 by the Rev. Yoman Man in the same year. Rev. Man served on a part-time basis for the next four years. He was joined later by Pastor Brady Morishita, the church's first part-time English Ministry pastor who served until 2004. Rev. Man and Pastor Morishita left in 2004 to assume pastorates in Oak Park, Illinois and Oakland, Michigan respectively. In 2007, the Church called Rev. Chi-Chuen Lau as pastor. Rev. Lau resigned and left the church on September 1st, 2009.
The Church Building
In the initial years, the congregation met for Sunday worship service at various times at the Arlington Heights Evangelical Free Church, Thomas Junior High School, and the Olive School.
On June 29, 2008, the congregation held its first meeting in the new church building at 310 E. Hintz Road in Arlington Heights, Illinois. Dedication of the church building was held on October 18, 2008.