On Wednesday evening, May 18, 1977, Bishop Leroy Jones, Sr., began a Faith Mission at Christian Community Church on 154th & Kedzie in Markham, Illinois. Every Wednesday evening for 13 weeks Bishop Jones and family were the only ones in attendance. The Jones family sang, prayed and had devotions. Bishop Jones concluded by preaching to his family.
On one of those Wednesday’s only Bishop Jones was in the church: he sang, prayed, preached to chairs, had dismissal and left. During this 13-week period, only two people visited the church.
Bishop Jones became discouraged. He told his wife that perhaps he misunderstood the Lord; perhaps the Lord did not intend for him to start a Mission. The next week Elder Flowers and his family and others visited the church; Bishop Jones became encouraged again.
However, for the next two weeks no one except Bishop Jones’ family attended the service. He said, “LORD, I am going back next week and if no one comes out I am going to give up.” That night while in service, Bishop Jones prayed, “LORD if it’s your will for me to continue this mission send someone out.” When the prayer was concluded the church was “FILLED.” From that night, October 5, 1977, God began to bless and to send visitors to the church.
Elder and Sister Flowers and their family began to visit church and later became the first official members. Bishop Jones sought a new name for the church. His wife suggested “NEW LIFE” and God assured him, this was the proper name, with the scripture reference, II Corinthians 5:17 which reads, “Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.” On November 30, 1977, the Faith Mission was renamed, “THE NEW LIFE CHURCH OF GOD IN CHRIST.”
On Sunday, April 30, 1978, Bishop Jones and Elder Flowers went to Faith Temple Church of God in Christ. Bishop H. W. Goldsberry prayed blessings upon them and their work.
Bishop Jones now began to search for a place to have Sunday services. We continued to have service every Wednesday evening at 154th & Kedzie until the Lord blessed us to move to a new location. Wednesday, May 3, 1978 marked our last service at Christian Community Church. On Sunday, May 7, 1978 we moved to Tiny Tot Daycare Center at 15720 S. Dixie Highway in Harvey, Illinois, with Elder William Flowers serving as Assistant Pastor. Bishop Jones’ first message in the new church was “Show Me Thy Glory,” Exodus 33:18. From that day we began to have services every Sunday, both day and evening, and also on every Wednesday evening.
The Lord began to add to the church. When we had enough children, Mother Eleanor Moore organized a Sunshine Choir with Mother Christine Leslie as Director and Mother Shirley Jones as Assistant. She also organized a Women’s Choir for our first Women’s Day Service. As we grew, we needed more room. We began to look for another building. On Sunday, November 18, 1979, God blessed us to move to 14735 S. Dixie Highway in Harvey, Illinois, where our membership grew to approximately 120 families. To accommodate the growth in membership and the expansion of our auxiliaries and ministries, we had to remodel and reconfigure the church three (3) times.
Bishop Jones organized a building committee in January 2000 to start the campaign for a new church. Bishop Jones and the committee worked hard to secure funds to start the initial planning to build the church on our vacant property located at 148th & Vail. During the process, architectural plans were developed; the land was surveyed and prepared to put up a new building. However, God knew best. One day while driving west on 155th street in Harvey, pondering in his mind why the building project was not going as planned, he saw a neglected church at 148 E. 155th Street out of the corner of his eye. He quickly turned back and after walking around the church noticed that the property was vacant. He went home, got Mother Jones and returned to the facility. When he arrived he noticed that the front door was open. As he approached the church, he was greeted by the building care taker who gave him the freedom to tour the church. After touring the church, he was sold! He inquired into the price of the building and was informed that open bids were going to be accepted in a few weeks. Bishop Jones quickly pulled together his financial team and submitted a proposal. New Life Church won the bid in May 2004 and closed on the church in September 2004! To show you how God works, the church offered more than twice the space of the planned building and was $500,000 dollars cheaper.
Over the next 9 months, Bishop Jones and the congregation worked tirelessly alongside contractors to prepare the church for New Life’s May 2005 anniversary. The entire church was literally renovated from the ceiling to the floor. On Sunday, May 1, 2005, Bishop and Mother Jones, the congregation and a host of family and friends paraded from the Dixie Highway church site to our present church site at 148 E. 155th Street and entered our new home grateful for what God had done and in anticipation of what is yet to come.
Not only has the present church accommodated our growth to over 150 families and counting, but it facilitated the linkage between our church and the surrounding communities by providing additional space to promote Christian literacy and creative educational initiatives. More importantly, our ministry has demonstrated God’s power working in whole communities as well as in individual lives.
We can truly say that that we have come this far by FAITH!