Our History

Our History

Kenwood United Church of Christ came into being on November 17, 1885 under the name of Kenwood Evangelical Church. A small faithful group of people from various denominations came together to organize The Lakeside Sunday School. They broke ground for their first meeting house on April 9, 1885 at the intersection of Woodlawn and Lake Avenue, near Forty-fifth street. Membership increased rapidly, so a large wing was added and named the Kenwood Chapel. As membership continued to grow, Kenwood Sunday School was organized on August 30, 1885, along with a Ladies Society and a weekly prayer meeting. Preaching services were held from its inception, and were attended by an increasing number of people. The neighborhood was ripe for a church, thus on September 5, 1885, the decision was made to organize a neighborhood church, and on November 17, 1885, the Kenwood Evangelical Church was born with thirty-seven members.

In April 1886, the Rev. John P. Hale was called as the first pastor. Rev. Hale served until 1898. As the membership continued to increase, it became clear that a larger building would be needed. On November 26, 1887, the cornerstone of our present building was laid.

Kenwood has been served by several wonderful pastors over the years:

Rev. John P. Hale (APRIL 1886 – 1898)
Rev. R. Crosser (December 1898 – June 1910)
Rev. Albert Joseph McCarney (April 9, 1911 – May 8, 1927)
Rev. Alfred Lee Wilson (March 18, 1928 -1949)
Rev. William Charles Malloy, Jr. (April 5, 1949 – Late 1949)
Rev. George Nishimoto (1949 – February 28, 1961)
Rev. Dr. Samuel Gandy (September 1961 – December 1964)
Rev. Herbert Eaton (1964 – 1966)
Rev. Dr. Clynde Miller, Interim (1968 – 1969)
Rev. Marion Phillip (1969 – 1970)
Rev. Byron Hood (1970 – 1972)
Rev. Thomas Davis (October 27, 1974 – 1976)
Rev. Alexander Yuille (July 1977 – December 1979)
Rev. Barron Brandon, Interim (March 1980 – May 1980)
Rev. John McFarland (June 1980 – August 1980)

In August 1980 Rev. Leroy Sanders was called as Senior Pastor. Under Rev. Sanders’ leadership the church grew both numerically and spiritually. During Rev. Sanders’ tenure as pastor several ministries were born including our Feed the People soup kitchen and the Norma Jean Sanders Free Clinic named after Rev. Sanders’ late wife. Rev. Sanders retired in 2015 after 36 years of service. Rev. Sanders was succeeded by Rev. Damon Jones who served from October 2015 – March 2016.

In June 2017, the church voted to call the Rev. Lisa Goods as the first female Senior Pastor in the church’s 132-year history.  Rev. Goods was officially installed on October 15, 2017 by the Chicago Metropolitan Association of the Illinois Conference United Church of Christ surrounded by hundreds of friends, family members, colleagues and church members. Kenwood is excited about her leadership into our next season of ministry.