95 Years of Grace (1914 – 2010)
In the summer of 1914 the Holy Spirit began stirring in the heart of the Romanian Baptist Community of Chicago, launching off an awakening and desire that is still evident 95 years later. God had set aside a man by the name of Alexandru Illaci to change the course of history for the Romanian Baptist Community. In the summer of 1914 Pastor Alexandru Illaci then living in Cincinnati, was invited by Pastor Rista Igrisan to take part in evangelical revival in Chicago.
During the revival 30 people participated and two baptisms took place, launching First Romanian Baptist Church of Chicago and in the state of Illinois.
From the summer of 1914 to 1917 the small community met every Sunday in the home of Ion Rosu, a brother who accepted Jesus Christ as His savior and was baptized during the 1914 summer revival. With 21 members in 1917 the members of the church began to search for a sanctuary.
They first rented a place of worship on High Street and Webster. They remained at this location until 1920, then relocating to a location on Clybourn, located across the street from the Romanian Culture Center then named “Coliba”. They remained at the location until 1923, when God opened the doors for the members to purchase their own church. It is at this location, 86 years later, First Romanian Baptist Church still stands strong in the calling of the Lord.
The church has always been a family focused church; it remains a small church with its high peak of members hit in 1941 with 163 members. Due to the economical times after 1941 many of the church’s members moved from Detroit to Chicago in search for work.
In 1967 The First Romanian Baptist Church of Chicago began supporting the Romanian Missions Society by sponsoring a radio station.
Also in 1967 with the wave of immigration the church welcomed brothers, Alexa and Pitt Popovici, whom three years later along with a group of members began Romanian Baptist of Chicago. In 1978 Martian Cocian, whom was supported financially by a group of 40 members began to work as a pastor evangelizing to the Romanian members who spoke no English. In 1980 a group of people including a few members of First Romanian Baptist Church of Chicago withdrew to begin Romanian Baptist Church “Bethlehem” and was led by Pastor Dancea George. In 1990 Bethlehem reunited with First Romanian Baptist Church of Chicago.
Of all the Romanian Baptist Church’s that were founded before 1960 only four remain:
- RBC: Akron founded in 1910
- RBC: Cleveland founded in 1911
- RBC: Detroit founded in 1911
- RBC: Chicago founded in 1914
We would like to commemorate the founding pastors and our present day pastor:
- Dumitru Truţa – 1920-1923
- Vasile Jones – 1923-1935
- Iosif Ardelean – 1935-1942
- Luca Sezonov – 1942-1959
- Ted Faur- 1959-1985
- George Hancock-Ştefan – 1985 – 1990
- George Dancea – 1990 – 1993
- Puiu Sârbu – 1993 – 1994
- Laurian Lăzărescu – 1995 -2002
- Ionuţ Deliu-Zaharie – 2007- present day
We pray that our Heavenly Father continues to bless this church and that the Holy Spirit continues to work and pour out over us and over those who enter into First Romanian Baptist Church of Chicago.
Our hearts are warmed to be able to say even today “EBEN-EZER” – Thus far the Lord has helped us.