We trace our historic roots to the sixteenth-century Protestant Reformation and its seventeenth-century doctrinal statements, the Westminster Standards. It has been the history of our congregation and denomination to proclaim the truths that were rediscovered in the Reformation to our community, nation, and world.
History of the Local Church
In 1962, when Hanover Park was a frontier border between Chicagoland suburbia and farmland, a Christian with a burden for souls drove past this newly-born village and declared, “There needs to be a church here.” That same burden—to bring Christ to our community and serve Him in this place—has carried on to the present day.
The story of God’s building an Orthodox Presbyterian church in these northwest suburbs is a story of God’s grace—free, sovereign, electing, and unmerited grace. Thus it was altogether appropriate that the small nucleus of community families who gathered regularly for Bible study and worship should be known as Grace chapel when in 1963 they affiliated with the OPC.
Formerly the Village Church, the group had contact with the OPC through George Marston and came under the oversight of Bethel OPC in Wheaton. Two families from the original group, the Snows and the Baldwins, remain with the church to this day. Mr. John Baldwin has been an elder since the church was formally organized.
The church was organized in 1967, when the congregation called a son of the Bethel Church in Wheaton, Mr. James Bosgraf, to minister to the people as their pastor. Under Pastor Bosgraf’s ministry, patterns for Christian hospitality were set, and vigorous commitments to the teaching and nurture of youth through catechism and vacation Bible school were established.
The commitment to a VBS ministry as a means to train covenant children and evangelize non-Christian families continues to the present; in 1985 an average of 113 children attended. It was through the VBS that the first inroads were made into the Hispanic community. But the real answer behind molding Hispanic and Anglo into one unified body with diversity is the Lord Jesus Christ who has reconciled us to God in His one body.
Even while a small work, carrying hymnals and portable organ from school to school, the church sought to maintain a vision beyond her own local horizons. Even when the Presbytery of the Midwest was still giving financial aid (until 1976), funds were budgeted for Worldwide Outreach. The commitment and concern for the corporate body and the general extension of Christ’s kingdom has shown itself over the years by the church giving oversight to the birth of new churches in Janesville, Wisconsin, and now Chicago, Illinois. The grace of God has opened our eyes to the needs of others.
The church itself has representation from many surrounding communities, including Streamwood, Carpentersville, Roselle, and Schaumburg. People have come to the church through a variety of means—by personal invitation of a member, by seeing the sign outside, by VBS callbacks, and by a yellow pages ad stressing the Reformed character of Grace Church.
Yes, we are Reformed—we continue to strive to proclaim the whole counsel of God. The changing of men by this proclamation is our primary method of continued spiritual and numerical growth. God has blessed the means of Grace to our spiritual benefit, and we are confident He will always be faithful.
In 1977, ten years after our organization and incorporation, we began praying and looking for new property. Our auditorium, built by the members alongside Pastor Bosgraf’s home in 1967, became increasingly cramped for worship, Sunday school, and vacation Bible school. From 1977 to 1982 literally hundreds of properties were investigated, considered, and rejected—except one. A local Lutheran church thought it owned a certain property and had taken care of it as its own for many years. All the zoning maps as far as twenty to thirty years back showed the entire two-and three-quarter acres listed as church and cemetery (there is a historic cemetery covering about an eighth of an acre). But the Lutheran church could not show a clear title of ownership to the entire acreage.
We offered them $10,000 for the three-quarter acre to which they had clear title and for any rights they might have to the other two acres. We would file a suit on their behalf to quiet the title on these two acres. If we lost the suit, they would return our money, but if we won the suit, the whole two-and three-quarter acres would be ours for $10,000. The suit was uncontested, and we were given clear title to the land. Why didn’t the Lutherans invest the money themselves in the suit? Why didn’t another church approach them about the land before we did? Why did the village engineer take the time to offer suggestions? There is only one true answer. God had heard our prayers. The good hand of the Lord has been upon us and we are glad. The new building has been built primarily by the men and families of congregation with yeoman help from men in our Oostburg and Cedar Grove churches.
Thus, through the many wondrous movements of the will of our great God, Grace Church in Hanover Park now has this property and a beautiful and functional building to serve as a center of worship, fellowship, and outreach. A loose rendition of Proverbs 16:33 states it all so well: ‘Men throw the dice, but the Lord determines how the spots show up.’ Indeed, to the finest detail, God has been working all things for the good of His beloved but unworthy servants in Grace Church.
May we all be good stewards of His grace as we press on to the ends of the earth and age.
History of the OPC
The Orthodox Presbyterian Church (OPC) was formed out of a conflict in the mainline Presbyterian Church, U. S. A. That mainline denomination, in order to become increasingly broad in its theology, had made room for some who no longer thought it was necessary to believe in doctrines such as the inspiration and authority of Scripture, the virgin birth of Christ, the miracles of Christ, the blood atonement of Christ and the resurrection of Christ together with the future resurrection of all believers.
There were some, however, who were unwilling to compromise with false teaching. Dr. J. Gresham Machen and others formed a new church in 1936 to faithfully contend for the truth of the Word of God. From their efforts the Orthodox Presbyterian Church was born. The OPC still believes, to this day, that the truths compromised by the mainline church are essential doctrines to the Christian faith. The OPC continues to believe that the Westminster Confession and Catechisms are the best man made summary of the doctrine which is taught in the Word of God.
For more information about the history of our denomination, please see the historical background found on the denomination website.