Difference between revisions of "Norwood Gospel Chapel, IL"

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=Inter-Denominational Ministries=
=Inter-Denominational Ministries=
Darlene Kopke was responsible in her mid 20's for starting a branch of [[Intervarsity Christian Fellowship]] at Northeastern Illinois University in the mid to late 1960's, after active involvement in IVCF in high school.
Darlene Kopke was responsible in her mid 20's for starting a branch of [[InterVarsity Christian Fellowship]] at Northeastern Illinois University in the mid to late 1960's, after active involvement in IVCF in high school.

Revision as of 13:10, 6 November 2019

The roots of Norwood Gospel Chapel in Chicago date back to 1916. A group of Christians, dissatisfied with their denominational church affiliations, began meeting together in homes. Of these would have included the Paul Erickson and Sig J. Nelson familes, whose homes likely would have hosted those meetings. Also included would have been John George Mall, Sr., and his sisters Barbara and Agnes, all children of George Mall and his wife Katharina Barbara (Dieter) Mall.  

The interest grew and they sought help from the Moody Bible Institute for someone to minister to them. Among the first sent was Harold Harper, who was associated with the assemblies. In the summer of 1917, Mr. Harper and others conducted a gospel tent campaign in the neighborhood Portage Park. Barbara Mall played a portable organ for these meetings.

The good results created a need for a regular meeting place. At the close of the tent meetings a nearby store was secured at Central Avenue and Irving Park. Here a progressive work continued for four years. In 1922, the Irving Park Gospel Hall, a modest building at 5614 Dakin Street, Chicago, was built. The group at that time numbered about 40.


An excerpt from LOI 1961 April:

"In the fall of 1914, Harold was given a scholarship to attend Moody Bible Institute, Chicago, from which he graduated in 1916. While there he was given a much-coveted practice preaching assignment, but when he found it conflicted with attending the Lord's Supper at Austin Gospel Hall he asked to be excused. He had some difficulty with the dean over this, but as he stood his ground he was relieved and given another assignment.

That one was to preach the gospel in a home in the Irving Park district to a group of Swedes who wanted to hear the Word in English. He was invited back again and again. Boston brethren supplied a tent, and after graduation he preached in it, until a mission was established at Irving Park Road and Central Avenue. About a year of continuous ministry resulted in the planting of the Irving Park assembly in a building at 5614 Dakin Street.

The work expanded over the years and in 1951 the assembly built Norwood Gospel Chapel at Foster and Nagle, where today there are about 175 in fellowship. Thirty brethren remained to carry on at Dakin Street, the work there being known now as Portage Park Gospel Hall."

Early Leadership

Henry Petersen built up a large Sunday School and Friday night children’s meetings. Alfred and Edwin Gibbs were also instrumental in building up the assembly. In leadership at the Irving Park Gospel Hall were:

  • John Millard Doyle (1892-1960), previously at Austin, later thought in leadership at Portage Park. Used to pray in his car in front of homes with assembly folks afflicted with illness.
  • Lawrence Doyle - John and Lawrence married sisters. Both remembered as hard-working, loving elders.
  • George McAllen (b. 1901)
  • Arthur John Kopke music director
  • Harvey John Langguth (1900-1980) owned a large farm outside Chicago.
  • Paul Erickson hosted early meetings in his home
  • John Mall
  • Sig J. Nelson hosted early meetings in his home
  • Charles Howard
  • Harold Linquist
  • Sor Sorensen.

The assembly grew in attendance in the 1920s and 30s, but after World War II, had outgrown their building, and so a majority supported the contruction of a new hall.  

In 1951, after nearly 30 years on Dakin Street, about 125 members in fellowship in the Irving Park assembly moved into the newly constructed Norwood Gospel Chapel, located in a residential section on the northwest side of Chicago at Nagle and Foster Avenues. In 1953, the national workers and elders' conference was held at Norwood.

Children's Ministries

Darlene A. Kopke, a Schiller Park 2nd-3rd grade schoolteacher for thirty years, whose mother, Barbara Pauline Rose Mall Kopke, was one of the earliest in fellowship, served as director of a DVBS in the 1980's with over 225 children from the neighborhood, with 60 volunteers from the assembly.

They utilized the downstairs for the primary children, upstairs for the middle school children, and the two nearby houses owned by the assembly, one for the toddlers, and the other for teenagers.

Darlene was well remembered for a special puppet known as the "Lollipop Dragon" who helped the children recall their Scripture lessons in exchange for candy.  She served in teaching Sunday School and leading DVBS for over 25 years, also teaching 2nd & 3rd grade for thirty years.


Arthur John Kopke served as a music director at Irving Park for many years, and his daughter Darlene also served in this capacity later.

Inter-Denominational Ministries

Darlene Kopke was responsible in her mid 20's for starting a branch of InterVarsity Christian Fellowship at Northeastern Illinois University in the mid to late 1960's, after active involvement in IVCF in high school.


Both Irving Park and Norwood depended heavily on preachers from Emmaus Bible College before they relocated from Oak Park to Dubuque in 1984, including John Smart, who served as President, Paul Flint, and Dick Sanders. Of local preachers, Darlene recalls Paul Erickson, John Everding,

Commended Workers

The Norwood Gospel Chapel has commended several to the Lord’s work.

  • Joseph Paulick: Arizona Indian Mission, Flagstaff, AZ
  • Bill Rogers - Africa
  • Richard "Dick" and Betty Sanders - Africa
  • Genevieve White: Dominican Republic; also taught Sunday School at Irving Park when Darlene Kopke was a child.

Assemblies Inspired by Norwood

Portage Park Gospel Chapel

About 10 people of the former Irving Park assembly purchased the Gospel Hall on Dakin Street in 1951 and continued to meet there, calling it Portage Park Gospel Hall. Later became Portage Park Gospel Chapel, the assembly ceased to meet a few years ago with the death of one of the last elders.

Norwood Gospel Assembly of Korean

In 1977, two families immigrated from Korea to Chicago, having been in fellowship in the Korean Brethren Assembly in Seoul, Korea. They entered into fellowship at the Norwood assembly, but soon desired to establish a Korean-language assembly. Thus, in 1980, the Norwood Gospel Assembly of Korean came into being, the results of efforts of Young M. Lim, Bona Soo Rhee, and Joon H. Park. These and Sang Jin Park have been the elders. Korean is used as the language for the adults, and English is used in the Sunday School.

In 1985, the assembly divided in half, one becoming the Emmaus Gospel Assembly and the other San Jung Korean Assembly in Des Plaines. Emmaus Gospel Assembly rents space in the Park Manor Bible Chapel in Elgin and has about 60 adults and children in attendance. The San Jung Korean Assembly changed its name to Chicago Korean Bible Chapel. Both assemblies use Korean and English in their services, as before. Mr. Lim published a Korean hymnal in 1977 and is working on a second edition of it.

Union Ridge Gospel Chapel

The Union Ridge Gospel Chapel in Chicago began as a Sunday School outreach led by Charles Clohsey and Stanley Modrzejeswki of Norwood Gospel Chapel. Several from Norwood, including John George Kopke also frequented there to teach Sunday School, lead music, etc. By 1957, it had been established as an assembly. Paul and Al Streder, John Everding, and Art Modrzejewski were active in leadership.

Arlington Countryside Church

Darlene Kopke recollects that when Norwood Gospel Chapel was quite large, a number hived off to start Arlington Countryside Church, a fruitful Bible church. She recalls the Schultz family, Cy & Ruby Forrest, Howard Morgan and others instrumental in the initiating process, while relocating to the suburbs.

Final Days

Norwood folded in recent years. Some of the remaining members transferred to Northwest Gospel Chapel including Darlene A. Kobke, Helen Johnson, Babe Beattie and Virginia DelBaccio.

Also See


  • Illinois history by Robert L. Peterson
  • Letters of Interest: 1961 April
  • Darlene A. Kopke phone interview 11-5-2019 via Paul Sherwood