Church History

                    History of the Morgan Park Presbyterian Church
With credit due to Albert F. Heino Architect , Clerks of Session, Elders, Trustees, Deacons, Pastors, Many Church Booklets, the Oral History and the Saints.

July 6, 1890, twenty-nine people from Morgan Park met to discuss the need for a Presbyterian congregation in community. Public worship services were held in the Blake Hall of Morgan Park Academy for several months. These individuals formed The Morgan Park Presbyterian Association which petitioned the Chicago Presbytery to charter a Presbyterian church in Morgan Park.
"On Sabbath forenoon 15th of January, 1891, the Morgan Park Presbyterian Association became merged into the Morgan Park Presbyterian Church, duly organized on that day... Thankful for the pleasant experiences we all have enjoyed during these past months, in our relationship with each other as yoke-fellows in a common work, we look forward hopefully to the future, trusting in The Beneficent Wisdom under whose guidance and protection we are." (Session Minutes of The Morgan Park Presbyterian Church, February 1891
On January 25, 1891, a charter was signed by the Home Missions Committee of The Chicago Presbytery, which gave birth to our church. The Reverend Edwin R. Davis, who had just completed a term as Moderator of the Presbytery, was named pastor. The newly organized Session placed on the rolls fifteen charter members:
                              Mr. & Mrs. John Ingles,
                              Mr. & Mrs. A.H. Morrison,
                              Mr. & Mrs. J.P. Perro,
                              Mr. & Mrs. David Herriott,
                              Mr. & Mrs. John Mansfield,
                              Mr. R.G. Mansfield,
                              Miss E.E. Parnell,
                              Mr. Robert B. Thomson,
                              Mrs. George D. Prentiss, and
                              Mrs. Pierce.
By May of 1891, the Reverend Edwin Davis left Morgan Park to assume the position of Stated Clerk for the Chicago Presbytery, and the Reverend W.R. Scarret was named pastor. Under his leadership, the congregation undertook the important work of finding a permanent location for worship.
In 1892, Mr. W. G. Furguson donated a parcel of land on Longwood Drive in Morgan Park for the construction of a house of worship for the new congregation. The surrounding community was connected to the city of Chicago by the Rock Island train line that is located across the street from the new location.
The original church building was erected on the site of the present building during the year 1892 and was dedicated January 15, 1893 with the charter number of 46.
Interior Circa 1913

Despite the fact that Reverend Scarret left Morgan Park after only four months of ministry, the first annual report, for the year 1892, reflected the generosity of the members. Contributions that year not only covered the complete construction of the first church building, but also included: benevolent contributions to home and foreign missions, aid to denominational colleges, contributions to hunger relief, and gifts to the assistance of freed slaves.
In the fall of 1892, the congregation worked to provide a growing ministry in Morgan Park. The session found it difficult to attract pastoral leadership and often relied on the preaching of ministers who were delighted to spend a day in the country.
The Reverend W.D. McFarland led the congregation for 8 months until 1894 when the congregation called Rev. Wilson A. Eisenhart who remained until October 1, 1900. Following was Reverend Sherman L. Divine for two years; Reverend Alexander Patterson for three years and Clyde Lucas from 1908-1913.
In December of 1931, the congregation was able to call the Reverend Leason Sharpe, an Englishman who was known for his intellectual power, his inspiring leadership, and powerful preaching. The congregation and the Reverend Sharpe could not have known how important his gifts would prove to be for the future of the church. The Reverend Samuel W. Findley was called in 1914 and stayed until January of 1930.  Dr. Millford Hall Lyon came in April of 1930 and stayed until April 1931.

On the night of January 19, 1933 the original church building was almost completely destroyed by fire. Although this crushing event occurred at the very depth of the depression, the congregation bravely determined to rebuild at once. Some counseled against it, but the strong faith of the majority prevailed. Despite widespread unemployment and the limited resources of the members, Morgan Park Presbyterian Church dedicated a new place of worship February 18, 1934. A stone had been selected from the old church and was fashioned into the  "founder's stone," marked with the date 1891. The cornerstone was laid on October 1, 1933. The founder's stone was laid in the corner of the new church by; Elder William S. Kiskaddon. Resting on the "founder's stone" is the corner stone of the new church building marked with the date 1933. The cornerstone was laid by the Reverend  Samuel W. Findley.   The lower portion of the church was completed in 1933 and was dedicated on Sunday February 18th, 1934. The congregation worshipped in this section which is now the building's Westminster Fellowship Hall.
When Dr. Millford Hall Lyon left after only one year, the congregation experienced a great deal of turmoil in the congregation. The Presbytery quickly appointed Dr. Robert Clements as Interim Supply who united the congregation in spirit and purpose until the call of the Reverend Leason Sharpe who remained until 1945. After several months with interim supply, Rev. Robert Sawyier the church called Dr. William C. Graham in April, 1945.


As the war ended, many couples married, purchased homes in the community, started families, and joined Morgan Park Presbyterian Church. The new members found themselves challenged and invigorated by the ministry of a new pastor.

Dr. William Graham accepted the call as pastor to Morgan Park Presbyterian Church in 1945, and began the longest pastoral tenure to date. Dr. and Mrs. (Helen) Graham's leadership brought many children and youth into the congregation. Children's choirs, youth music programs, Boy Scouts, and Church School required tireless dedication on the part of the church's staff and volunteers. By the early 1950's Dr. Graham's enthusiastic leadership brought about congregational growth. As the community grew the congregation found its facilities inadequate for Christian education and fellowship. During the 1950's and 60's, while constructing our current Church School buildings, Morgan Park Presbyterian Church members not only expanded congregational programs, but also increased their contributions to foreign and local missions. Often special offerings were received for neighborhood settlement houses and the Presbyterian Home. The deacons also directed a hospital equipment loan program, which provided free use of medical equipment for members of the congregation and community.

In 1969, after nearly a quarter century of ministry in Morgan Park, Dr. Graham retired. The whole community joined to express their best wishes to Dr. and Helen Graham, who had faithfully served the congregation.
 After a lengthy pastoral search, the congregation extended a call to the Reverend Roy Schneider in 1971.
These were difficult times for congregations across the country and in the city. Several members of Morgan Park Presbyterian Church had moved to suburban homes west of their former community. Still, ministry continued at Morgan Park Presbyterian, in addition to his gifted preaching, the Reverend Schneider recognized a need for greater fellowship among members. At his prompting, several groups volunteered to sponsor time for coffee and conversation following each Sunday worship.  In the late 1970's, many Chicago Presbyterian churches closed their doors for the last time, but Morgan Park Presbyterian Church maintained a vital Christian ministry.
Rev Herbert Brockway served as Interim following the departure of Reverend Schnider until the congregation called

Reverend Jerry L. Hazen, who celebrated his marriage to his wife Colleen while pastor. Reverend Hazen expanded the congregation's vision and, with the special assistance of elders Cliff Parker and Richard Johnson, Morgan Park Presbyterian purchased the home at Longwood & ll0th Place, and in 1979, dedicated a new parking lot. In addition, the Reverend Hazen encouraged the congregation's participation in community and denominational ministries and encouraged the congregation's growth to reflect the community's diversity.     
In 1986, the Reverend Hazen accepted a call in Monmouth, Illinois and, under the interim leadership of Reverend Fred Milligan,

the congregation began the search for a new pastor. Reverend Milligian was instrumental in reorganizing the committee structure of the congregation and the development of a Worship and Music Committee. Reverend Milligan was very active in community activities such as the Ridge Run and Heart and Soul walk through the community. During his tenure, the Children's choir was started as well as a strong emphasis on music in reformed worship. Reverend Milligan had specialized training in urban ministry and strongly encouraged the participation of members at the Chicago Presbytery. As an Interim pastor, Reverend Milligan had under his care a very young seminarian named Jonathan Krogh. In July of 1988, following his ordination, the new Reverend Jonathan Krogh was called as pastor.
 During the beginning of Reverend Krogh's pastorate, the church continued on an upward swing. There were new programs for High School Youth, All Church Retreats and Picnics as well as a highly successful LOGOS after school program. During this period the church had two commissioners to the General Assembly. Jonathan had specialized training in counseling and left MPPC to pursue his calling as a counselor and teacher.
December of 1992 brought another test of faith for the congregation as the church was engulfed with flame and nearly destroyed a few weeks before Christmas. The fire completely consumed the remains of the original church which was affectionately known as the Fireside Room and Ladies Parlor. The upper floor Sunday School Wing fell through the fireside room and into the Medical Supply Room off of Westminster Hall. Westminster Hall filled up with black sooty water with the contents submerged. The fire stopped short of the sanctuary but sent heavy heat, soot and water damage into the nave. Many of the stained glass windows were lost and many more would have been lost if Reverend Krogh had not stopped the fireman's ax as they tried to vent the smoke and heat above the lancet windows. Many of the members of the congregation were at the church before the fire department had the flames put out ready to work. Immediately, congregates began working on salvage and preparing a space for Sunday worship in the Christian Education Wing. Christmas Eve Services were held in a very sooty sanctuary with special permission from the fire inspector. Following that special service, worship for the next year during reconstruction was held in Westminster Fellowship Hall much the same as in 1934 after the 1933 fire.
The congregation was to find that recovering from the fire involved spiritual recovery as well as physical recovery.
Upon the departure of Reverend Krogh, Co-Interims were supplied to the congregation: Reverend Ensign Leininger and Reverend George Thompson. Reverend Leininger attended to the pastoral care and Reverend Thompson to the weekly preaching.

In 19__, the energetic, Reverend David Neff was called to MPPC and is leading the congregation into the millennium.
Since 1891, Morgan Park Presbyterian Church has stood as a witness to the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Throughout its history, Morgan Park Presbyterian Church has tangibly participated in the advancement of the Kingdom of God. Today, Morgan Park Presbyterian Church is still growing as an expression of the Kingdom of God in the world.


When we build; let us think that we build forever. Let it not be for the present delight nor for present use alone. Let it be such work as our descendants will thank us for, and let us think, as we lay stone upon stone, that a time is to come when these stones will be held sacred because our hands have touched them, and that men will say as they look upon the labor and wrought substance of them, "See 1 This our fathers did for us."
(John Ruskin at the dedication of the  Sanctuary on April 20th, 1941).

"The glory of the provincial English Tudor Gothic churches of the 15th. century has been recaptured in the proportions of this church. The 2% to 1 ratio in the Nave and the deep Chancel containing the choir are characteristic of the early churches and give to this building the dignity and religious quality found in the historic buildings." (Albert F. Heino)

The principal divisions of the Church interior are the Nave and Chancel. The Nave contains the pews where the members of the congregation are seated for services. The word Nave comes from the Latin meaning ship, which is often designated as a symbol of the Church. The Nave has also been symbolic of the "Church Militant".

The lacy carvings of the powerful, traditional piers rising majestically to frame the windows contrasts the severe simplicity of the altar with its admonition "Abide in me and I in you."

"The magnificent Chancel signifies the "Church Triumphant" and contains the Presbytery where the choir is located and the Sanctuary where the Altar is placed." The center of attention is focused on the powerful redos built around the glorious triple Chancel windows and making them a part of the wall treatment. These windows are 114 feet from the east wall to the tower room. The three divisions over the Altar in the reredos represent the Trinity as do the triple lancet windows over the reredos. The three panels of the reredos have the carvings "Sanctus- Sanctus Sanctus" or Holy - Holy - Holy in the canopy.

The throne at the base of the altar cross contains a sacred monogram "IllS" which is a contraction of the Greek word "IHCOYC" meaning Jesus. In Biblical times, the letter "Sigma" was written as a "C".

. The rich coloring of the windows is brought down to the altar by the use of silk panels of ecclesiastical color. The three red tapestry panels of the reredos represent the blood of Christ which brought about our redemption.

The Angus Dei or Lamb of God carving in the frontal of the altar is the universal symbol of Jesus.

The corbels under the Chancel wood arches contain symbolic carvings of the four Evangelists, Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. Matthew is represented by a carpenter's square to recall his trade. Mark is represented by a book and scroll to recall is writings. Luke, the artist, is represented by a palette and brush and, John by a cup and serpent. This recalls the attempt made to slay him by giving him a poison chalice from which the Lord spared him.

The simplicity of the true Gothic arch trusses in the Nave and the beamed arches of the Chancel concentric with the stone Chancel arch achieve an effect of great size to the interior. The interior walls are laid up in random ashlar pattern of stag blocks.

The exterior reflects the, same treatment as in the interior. The wails are construct of dolomite Wisconsin limestone
in random ashlar and trimmed with Bedford (Indiana) cut limestone. The roof is Vermont slate in variegated colors,
sizes and thickness. The sheet metal is lead coated copper

The Tower and Bell The exterior is dominated by the simple, massive Coleman Memorial Tower containing the entrance Narthex,.  A second floor tower room and the belfry encloses the bell lifted from the first building. The bell has never been mounted. The Three aluminum grilles of the tower belfry Openings are reminders of The Holy Trinity.  The East grille represents the Father; the South grille represents the Son and the North grille represents the Holy Ghost. This tower may be illuminated at night from within the belfry.

The South Wing The south wing is the oldest portion of our building. It partially survived the fire, and was remodeled in 1933 as part of the completion of Westminster Fellowship Hall. The stone carving surmounting the entrance bay of the south wing, symbolizes Christian education. The bible accompanied by the flaming torch and cross in a crown, add significance to the purpose of this section of the building.

Four shields carved in the brackets under the south wing flower box represent 1) Hope (anchor), 2) the Sacrament
 (chalice), 3) the Suffering Christ and Triumph of the Cross (blazed cross) ), and 4) the Kingdom of Heaven (sword & keys) with the sword representing victory and the keys representing the key to heaven.
The fireplace in the south wing has been constructed from the foundation stones of our first. house of worship.
This reminds the congregation that the fire which destroyed our building in 1933 has been tamed by faith to warm our fellowship.

 Building Additions
Although plans for an addition had been included with the design for the sanctuary, construction costs made their completion unrealistic. Another design was approved and by 1953 work had begun for building renovation and addition.
The first of two additions for Christian Education, now the south end of our Church School Wing, was dedicated on November 14, 1954. The second addition, the north end of the Church School Wing, was completed in 1967. Also in 1967, Morgan Park Presbyterian Church members completed renovations to the South Wing, which included the addition of a wash room, the deacon's storage room, and the creation of the Fireside Room

The Windows
The beautiful stained glass windows, crafted by the distinguished Henry Lee Willet of Philadelphia, are rich in religious significance and highly decorative in effect. The Chancel windows, designed in the style of the 13th Century are full of vibrant color arranged in a rich jewel pattern. The rich coloring of these windows produces a subdued light and mystical effect that is restful when viewed directly throughout the service.

The Nave windows recall the coloring of the Chancel windows in their borders and symbols with a neutral field admitting a greater amount of light. They contain religious symbols taken from accounts in The Scriptures. In this way, the congregation worships surrounded by reminders of God's Covenant.

The windows of the "Nave" are divided into two groups, (I) those of the south side depicting Old Testament scenes and those (2) on the north side representing New Testament subjects.

Beginning at the west on the south side:

     At the top of the window is the hand of God and in the center the earth, sun and star
                               At the top is the knotted club that Cain used to slay Abel. In the center is the
               Altar of Abel with smoke swirling toward Heaven, The altar of Cain has the smoke reversed.
               This window represents Noah and the deluge. At the top is the dove tarrying the
               twig of olive After seven days Noah again set forth the dove and when it
                                    returned in the evening, there was an olive leaf in it's mouth, so Noah knew the
               waters had gone from the earth. The center of the window is a representation of
               the ark.
               At the top is the sword and the fire and in the center the stars and the fagots. His
               call and God's promise to Abraham are shown by the many stars with one star
               much larger and brighter than the others signifying the "Messiah". The fagots,
               sword and the fire are symbolic of his great sacrifice of his son, Isaac.
               At the top are the two tablets of the Ten Commandments and in the center the
          burning bush. The twofold tablet of stone given to Moses on Mt. Sinai expresses
          our duties toward Gad and toward our fellow- man, The burning bush recalls
          the angel of the Lord appearing to Moses in a burning bush.
               At the top are the pitchers and torches and in the center the fleece. Gideon and
               Samson are often used as representatives of the Judges. Gideon's symbol is the
               fleece or the fleece and the bowl, or else the pitcher and a lion. This recalls the
               story of Gideon when he routed the Mideonites, He divided the 300 men into 3
               companies and put a trumpet into the hands of every man, also a pitcher with a
               lamp in the pitcher. "When I blow a trumpet", he said, "then all of you blow
               trumpets and shout, the sword of the Lord and Gideon". So Gideon and the 300
               men went to the outside of the camp of the Mideonites and they blew their
               trumpets, they broke the pitchers in which the lamps were hidden and cried "the
               sword of the Lord and Gideon". The soldiers of Mideon were so surprised and
               frightened that they fought one another and fled from the Israelites. Gideon said,
               "I will put a sheepskin upon the ground and if there is dew on the sheepskin only,
               and if the earth around it is dry, then I shall know that you will save Israel through
               me. And it was so.
               At the top are the tongues and the hot coals for his altar and in the center the
               scroll with star and the cross, Isaiah was the best know of the 5 major prophets,
               Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel and Daniel. The symbols are representative of his
               Prophecies. (Isaiah 9:6 is referenced)
               At the top is the scroll and the tunic and in the center the "chariot of fire". Elijah
               was a prophet and miracle worker. There appeared a "Chariot of fire" and Elijah
               saw it and cried, "My Father, My Father, the chariot of Israel and the horsemen

Looking  at the windows on the North side beginning at the east.

               At the top is the angel anointing and in the center the lilies and a dove. This, of
     course, represents the appearance of the angels to the Virgin Mary with the news
     that she was to be the mother of Jesus.
                    At the top is the "Star of Bethlehem" and in the center the Babe.
               The scroll and the lion of this window recall the learned discussion of Christ in
               the temple with the doctors at the age of twelve years.
                    The usual symbols of baptism are here shown as the "lamb" representing John
                    the Baptist. Here the lamb is bearing the banner of victory. Above is the dove
     representing the spirit descending on Jesus. The lamb is standing over The Book
     of Revelation
                    The familiar symbol of the good shepherd and the Bible itself are used to portray this
                    the "Ministry of Christ", the good shepherd.
                    The chalice, grapes, wheat and loaf are representative of the administration of
                    the Lord's body and blood at the Last Supper.
               The three crosses on the hill and the crown of thorns and nails adequately recall
                                        the crucifixion of our Lord and Savior.
                                       Cocoon and Butterfly, and Phoenix Here the phoenix, a mythical bird is an
                                       accepted symbol of the resurrection of Christ.
WINDOW N-NINE - "Ascension"
                                      Here we see the feet of the risen Christ and a large cross.
               In this window the dove of the Holy Ghost and the tongues of fire recall the
               outpouring of the Holy Ghost to the Apostles at Pentecost.
               The Narthex contains two windows dedicated to praise and thanksgiving.
               A third window representing prayer can be seen as one ascends the stairway to
               the balcony. These windows are all executed in the 13th. century manner and are
               rich in vibrant color as were the early windows of that period.
VERANDAH WINDOW (south terrace entrance)
          The "Cross and Grown" representing the victory of Jesus Christ.
               The medallion leaded window, now hanging over the entrance to Westminster
          Fellowship Hall, is a reproduction of the seal of the Presbyterian Church of the
     United States, and was recovered from the first building.  For many years after
     reconstruction, this glass window was located in the room off of the organ loft
     and was known as the North Window.

Exterior Wood Carvings

At the top of the gable end of the north entrance porch there was a woodcarving recalling the parable of the house on the rock and the house on the sand. This carving contains a replica of the Morgan Park Presbyterian Church standing on a huge mountainous rock symbolizing the strength of the church.

As one begins to approach the south porch entrance there is seen a flower box immediately below the second story window on which are four symbols     
     (I)     ANCHOR     Depicting hope.
     (2)     CUP     The suffering of Christ.
     (3)     CROSS (blazed)     The triumph of Christ.
     (4)     SWORD AND KEY     Victory (sword) Heaven (key to heaven).

                                                      Mr. & Mrs. John Ingles,
                              Mr. & Mrs. A.H. Morrison,
                              Mr. & Mrs. J.P. Perro,
                              Mr. & Mrs. David Herriott,
                              Mr. & Mrs. John Mansfield,
                              Mr. R.G. Mansfield,
                              Miss E.E. Parnell,
                              Mr. Robert B. Thomson,
                              Mrs. George D. Prentiss, and
                             Mrs. Pierce.

Pastors who have served Morgan Park Presbyterian Church
*Denotes Interim Supply
Edwin R. Davis
July 1890
April 1891
W. R. Scarret
May 1, 1891
Sept 1, 1892
N. D. McFarland
January 1, 1893
August 26, 1894
Wilson A. Eisenhart
May 1, 1896
Sherman L. Divine
Alexander Patterson
October, 4 1903
July, 1907
Clyde L. Lucas
Samuel N. Findley
January 14,1930
Milford Hall. Lyon
Robert Clements*
Leason Sharpe
Robert L. Sawyer*
Dr. William C. Graham
Roy L. Schneider
Herbert Brockway*
Jerry L. Hazen
Fred Milligan*
Jonathan B. Krogh
Ensign Leininger*
George Thompson*
David Neff

Miscellaneous Photos from the archives----More to come

Carol Choir circa 1990s

Carol Choir circa 1960s

          Westminster Choir circa 1960s

Mother's Day 1980's