Lebanon Lutheran Church                          East Side Bible Church                Agudath Achim Bikur Cholim Synagogue 

Lebanon Lutheran Church
By the end of 1895, fifty or more Swedish families settled in Hegewisch. These people needed a church. This led to two organizational meetings held in Nelson's Feed store. Thus began Lebanon Lutheran Church. By Christmas of 1896, the Congregation worshiped in their new church located at Brandon Avenue. From 1906 to 1916, Lebanon struggled to do ministry with the help of interim pastors and seminary students. Only one minister stayed more than a year. In 1923, a parsonage was built at 132nd and Brandon Ave. During the years 1956 to 1966 of its existence, Lebanon experienced a time of decision. Reverend Ross Larson became pastor in 1958. He was assigned by the president of the Augustana Illinois Conference to help close the small church that never outgrew its mission status. He failed, because Avalon Trails opened up and gave the church a chance to grow. A new church would be built. In 1963, land was purchased at 131st and Manistee to build the new church. From 1966 to 1976, there was much fund-raising and saving for the new church. After much of this, the cornerstone for the new building was laid on October 26, 1969. On March 29, 1970, the first services were held in the new church building. In January of 1996, Bethesda Lutheran Church became part of the church when the East Side church closed and sold its building. Over its hundred year history Lebanon has changed much. It has moved and grown in the community of Hegewisch and has touched other parts of the Southeast Side of Chicago by joining with other congregations.

East Side Bible Church

East Side Bible Church was founded originally as the Church of Christ. It is located at 10524 Avenue N and began on January 1, 1900. Some of its founders were Rev. C. F. Pattullo, Mr. Bitcon, and Mr. Fitzgerald. Patullo remained pastor for the church until 1945. It was later known as the 106th Street Mission before finally becoming known as the East Side Baptist Church. The current building was built in 1915 and dedicated on December 5, 1915. The church has always served multiple ethnic groups unlike most of the churches in the community which at their origin tended to serve a single ethnic group. 

Agudath Achim Bikur Cholim Synagogue

Agudath Achim-Bikur Cholim is an Orthodox Jewish synagogue located at 8927 Houston Avenue in the South Chicago community. Bikur Cholim, the original congregation at this site, was issued a charter by the State of Illinois in July 1888 and the City of Chicago issued a permit in May 1902 to construct a synagogue at the present address. Built and completed in 1902, it housed a congregation of 500 Eastern European Jewish families at its peak. Designed by architect Henry L. Newhouse, the Romanesque structure is almost hidden away in a row of houses on Houston Ave. It was the first public building built without obstructing support posts. The synagogue also has excellent acoustics. The synagogue had a separate balcony for women because Orthodox Judaism requires the separation of men and women during religious services. In 1972 Congregation Agudath Achim, located at 7933 S. Yates, sold its facilities and merged with Bikur Cholim. Agudath Achim means "society of brothers" and Bikur Cholim means "visiting the sick". In recent years most of the Jewish population of the area has moved and there was difficulty maintaining a "minyon", a quorum of 10 men needed to hold religious services. Since 1994 the synagogue has shared its building with the Beth Shalom B'nai Zakam Ethiopian Hebrew Congregation. Some of the members of the former synagogue still worship there. The synagogue has the distinction of being Chicago's oldest continuously operating synagogue and is the only synagogue in the city south of 55th street and east of Kedzie. This remnant of a South Chicago past that prominently featured Jews and Jewish institutions remains. The Hispanic names on store fronts in the neighborhood give no hint that many of the businesses in the first half of the century were owned by European Jews.

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