Our History

When the congregation was originally organized it chose the name “Swedish Evangelical Lutheran Capernaum Church” and was a church without a building for several years.

The groundwork for this new congregation had been started in 1904 when a group of members of Elim Lutheran Church, 113th and Forest, decided to start a Sunday school in Dauphin Park.  A Ladies Aid group was also organized from these humble origins and a congregation was organized on January 30, 1906.  There were 35 adults and 54 children on the charter membership rolls.

Worship was held in the Congregational Church at 93rd and Drexel and then moved to a hall on Cottage Grove.  Since the group was small they joined with Ebenezer Church of Oakdale to form a parish and called a student, Mr. A. T. Lorimer, to become pastor upon ordination in the spring of 1907.  The call was accepted and Pastor Lorimer served this parish until the fall of 1908.

In 1909, Pastor Carl Henderson was called.  Planning and work began for a chapel of their own.  Rev. P.O. Bersell, Pastor in Chicago Heights and president of the district dedicated a chapel costing $1,800, located at 740 E. 91t Place, on April 3, 1910.   The building would be destined to serve the congregation for 30 years and is still standing today.

Toward the end of 1910, the Ebenezer-Capernaum joint parish was divided and Pastor Henderson served only the Capernaum congregation until his resignation in 1912.

It is unclear whether or not Pastor Henderson served Capernaum on a full-time, resident basis during that period of less than two years; but if so, it was to be the only time that the congregation was to have a full time pastor in the first 35 years of its history.

Following Pastor Henderson’s resignation a number of laypeople took over the leadership of the congregation.  A Mr. Yngvy Joranson served during the summer of 1914.  Mr. Otto Eklund, who served until the spring of 1915, followed him.  In July of that year, Professor Elinar Johnson of the University of Chicago assumed preaching and teaching duties until 1919.  Then a Professor Gunderson took over and served for two years, and then was succeeded by Rev. O.O. Echardt, who began his English services in 1921.  During his pastorate, English became the language of the church.  Apparently it was during this time that Lebanon Church of Hegewisch became a part of the parish.

The chapel saw some major improvements in 1924 when a basement was put in and a furnace installed.  In 1927, a new organ was purchased.  Years later, following the Great Depression, Pastor Nordling wrote: “We marvel that we are here today; that the terrible depression which locked up some funds in a defunct bank cut such a swath in fiancés through unemployment could not destroy us entirely.  God willing, the little, stunted Capernaum will be able to celebrate again and again.  But we suggest that we reorganize ourselves under an entirely new name.”   Thus a petition in 1937 was granted by the Augustana Church to change the name to St. Mark Lutheran Church.

Since the dedication in 1941, St. Mark has gone through many changes.  In the 1950’s the St. Mark congregation became predominately African American, and continued to serve the community.  As we begin our next 100 years we continue to minister knowing that St. Mark is a testimony that “faithfulness endures to all generations.”

St. Mark’s Evangelical Lutheran Church Pastor’s

 

1940 - 1941 

Rev. Theodore Matson

 

1941 - 1945

Rev. Martin Carlson 

 

1946 - 1953

Rev. Robert Edlen

 

1953 - 1961

Rev. Peter Erickson

 

1961 - 1965

Rev. Ray L. Forstrom

 

1965 - 1967

Rev. Richard J. Winsor

    

1976 - 1967

Rev. Paul J. Hanson

  

1976 - 1982 

Rev. Patrick Persaud

 

1989 - 1982

Rev. Glenn H. Blackwelder

 

1996 - 1991

Rev. James F. Phillips

 

1998 - 2006

Rev. Dr. D. Jensen Seyenkulo

 

2009 - Present

Rev. Lawrence J. Clark