Immanuel's History

Starting in the fall of 1991 a handful of young people in Chicago’s northwest suburbs began to meet every Saturday morning to pray for revival. Through the many Saturdays of prayer, God began to lay on their hearts a vision to plant a church that would embody the passions and the values of their very prayer requests. On September 4, 1994, Immanuel Baptist Church had its first service outdoors in the Rogers Park neighborhood of Chicago.

In those early days the vision morphed and the meeting location moved several times. They met in two different theaters in Edgewater and then settled for nine years at a church building in Lincoln Park, meeting on Sunday afternoons. During that time Immanuel developed a strong community and was theologically solid, but never really reached its neighborhood with the gospel. It was a largely commuter church drawing from the suburbs and predominately second-generation Asian-Americans. In 2001 the founding pastor left and for three years Immanuel didn’t have a clear grasp of its mission.

In 2004 Immanuel extended a call to Nathan Carter to come and serve as a full-time Pastor and help lead them into their next chapter. In August of 2005, after much prayer and preparation, Immanuel re-planted in the UIC Area. This time there was a clear vision for being a local neighborhood church (see here for more on that). Several of the original members moved down to the area and many neat things began happening. We began to see new people come and some converts. At first we met at what used to be the Duncan YMCA (1001 W. Roosevelt Road). Then we met for a few months in another space before landing at a storefront at 1417 W. Taylor Street, right next to Leona’s. We were there for four years and saw steady growth during that phase as we began to reflect the neighborhood more.

As the culmination of a lot of planning, in 2010 we sent out several people from among us to plant a new church in the West Loop, but it had to be ‘un-planted’ after a couple months. We learned many lessons during that time about what it takes to be a church-planting church, but our desire to be part of a movement in the city of gospel-centered church planting hasn’t been dampened. One of the good things to come out of that was the founding of GOSPEL for Chicago, a collaborative effort to raise up pastors and planters for the city.

In August of 2011 we moved meeting locations again, two blocks south to 1443 W. Roosevelt Road – a space that is a bit larger and suits our needs better as we have more families with kids. We’ve never been big, but God has sustained us for over 20 years. Our initial value of preaching the gospel in the city has not wavered. As we’ve grown up our vision for where and how to do that has matured and come into focus. We expect to keep impacting those coming through Chicago on their way to somewhere else, but also hope to keep putting down deeper roots so as to be a healthy, stable church in the neighborhood for years to come. After a two year legal ordeal with the City (see here for more on that), we were able to buy this space in September of 2018 and begin fixing it up.