In the early 1990’s Dr. Wayne Van Gelderen Sr. (now in Heaven) determined that his church, Marquette Manor Baptist Church of Downers Grove, IL, would plant a church farther West. Kerry James Allen was teaching Bible at Marquette Manor Baptist Academy and was chosen by Dr. Van Gelderen to begin the work. The church plant was initially intended for Yorkville, IL, but a number of mitigating factors closed that door and opened another in the adjoining town of Oswego, IL. The name of the church was chosen for Yorkville, but fortunately the Fox River runs through both towns so we didn’t have to change the name!
After thousands of phone calls and hundreds of personal visits were made Fox River Baptist Church was born in October of 1993. FRBC initially met in Traughber Junior High School for the first year, and then moved into the Prairie Point Park District building the next year where it remained for the next sixteen years. The very reasonable rent ($200/month!) enabled the church to afford a full time salary for the pastor and also to give over $100,000 to missions during those years, in addition to funding a book printing ministry. The Park District building was extremely amenable to a young church providing room for multiple Sunday Schools, nursery, four bathrooms, a kitchen, dining area, audio/visual equipment, a piano, plenty of parking, and we didn’t even have to plow snow! We have had as many as 125 in attendance when we met at Prairie Point and as few as our family alone. During those years we baptized converts in a swimming pool, a hot tub, and a pond in October. Those were the days!
In early 2005 another Baptist church in Aurora, IL, (about six miles from Prairie Point) had dwindled down to just a few people and offered to donate their building to FRBC. The building was a house on a double lot that had been converted to a church. We considered the offer an open door from the Lord and accepted the offer. What initially looked like a major remodel however turned into a near complete demolition and rebuild. The men of the church spent the next five years of Fridays and Saturdays rebuilding the church. Almost all of the work was done with internal help, with just a very few exceptions.
In 2010 we faced our next hurdle and discovered that God’s timing is, of course, perfect. “God is not slack” (“slack” meaning tardy or slow). During the years we met at Prairie Point they were hosting a number of programs and activities at the building with the exception of Sundays when they were closed and our church met there. As Oswego and the Park District grew, they added a new facility where most of the programs were moved, and Prairie Point became primarily administrative and offices. One by one the rooms that we had been using were transformed into offices and cubicles. In short, we had overstayed our welcome. The day finally came when we were given an eviction date (kindly worded, of course, all our dealings with the Park District were professional and they were extremely gracious. Thank you, Prairie Point!). At that point we were within less than a month from finishing our building and getting an occupancy permit, and so we praise our God who closes one door and yet opens another.
Our beautiful new building is now a reality after seventeen long years. It is a testimony to our faithful God and a small but dedicated group of people who put their hands to the plow and didn’t look back. Come and see it and us, won’t you?
Looking for that Blessed Hope,
Kerry James Allen, Pastor