Grace Community Church (Chicago, Illinois, USA)

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Grace Community Church, Chicago, Illinois, USA, began in 1917 as the Mennonite Bible Mission, under A. F. Wiens. Abraham F. and Katharina Wiens had served as missionaries in Chicago on behalf of the Evangelical Mennonite Brethren (EMB) since 1906. This included service at the Mennonite Home Mission of the Mennonite Church (MC). Wiens encountered conflict in his work at the EMB mission in about 1915 and had to relinquish his leadership. The Wiens family, which included seven children, began an independent mission with a Sunday school in December 1917.

In 1937, when A. F. Wiens died, John T. Neufeld, an architect who had married one of the Wiens daughters, became the leader. In 1939 the Home Mission Board accepted the mission as a project, and the church joined the Middle District Conference that same year.

In the 1930s, the membership was composed of Germans, French, Irish, Swedish, Norwegian, Polish, Greek, Jews, and Dutch, with other East European in the community.

On 31 December 1950, Mennonite Bible Mission changed its name to Grace Mennonite Church.

On 30 April 1977, an arsonist threw firebombs at the church, destroying its interior. Pastors Lee and Betty Hochstetler were in the building at the time but escaped unharmed. Groundbreaking for a new building took place in late 1979 and opened in fall 1980. The congregation met in a converted two-car garage in the interim. Prior to the rebuild, the congregation changed its name to Grace Community Church.

Grace Community Church closed in late 2014. A Spanish-speaking non-denominational New Life Community Church (Nueva Vida Brighton Park) occupied the church building.


Bohn, Stanley. "Grace Church, Chicago, prepares to rebuild." Central District Reporter (21 February 1978): A7.

"Chicago church meetinghouse burns." The Mennonite 92, no. 20 (17 May 1977): 327.

"Mennonite Bible Mission...." The Mennonite 52, no. 9 (2 March 1937): 5.

Neufeld, Catherine Wiens. "Mennonite Bible Mission now Grace Mennonite Church." The Mennonite 66, no. 6 (6 February 1951): 92.

Neufeld, John and Catherine. "The Mennonite Bible Mission." The Mennonite 54, no. 12 (21 March 1939): 15.

Neufeld, John T. "Our mission in Southwest Chicago." The Mennonite 58, no. 44 (9 November 1943): 6-7.

Rich, Elaine Sommers, ed. Walking Together in Faith: The Central District Conference, 1957-1990. Bluffton, Ohio: The Conference, 2003.

Toews, Mary Wiens. The True to Life Story of the Wiens Family of the Mennonite Bible Mission, now Grace Mennonite Church of Chicago. Chicago?: M. W. Toews, 1948?. Available in electronic text at

"Welcome to our new mission church." The Mennonite 54, no. 12 (21 March 1939): 15.

Winslow, Mark H. "Grace Community Church: one urban model." The Mennonite 96, no. 10 (10 March 1981): 150-151.

Additional Information

Address: 4155 South Rockwell Street, Chicago, Illinois



Denominational Affiliations: Central District Conference

Mennonite Church USA

Pastoral Leaders at Grace Community Church

Name Years
of Service
Abraham F. "A. F." Wiens (1868-1937) 1917-1937
John T. Neufeld (1895-1961) 1936-1959
Jack D. Kressly (1919-2003) 1959-1963
Grant G. Noll (1932-2002) 1963-1967
Alvin P. Voth (1904-1999) 1967-1976
Levi Hochstetler (1938- ) 1976-1985
Betty Hochstetler (1943- ) 1976-1985
Mark H. Winslow (1952- )(Assistant) 1979-1982?
LeRoy E. Kennel (1930-2019)(Interim) 1985?-1986?
Ed Ebel (Interim) 1986?-1987?
Mark Nation (Co-pastor) 1987-1988
Anne Nation (Co-pastor) 1987-1988
Charles Cooper 1989?-1995?
Lay Leadership 1995?-1997
Glenn M. Klaassen 1997-1999?
Marvin J. Friesen (Associate) 1997-1999?
Lay Leadership 1999?-2002?
June E. Thomsen 2002?-2004
Lay Leadership 2004?-2014?

Membership at Grace Community Church

Year Membership
1940 60
1950 65
1960 66
1970 40
1980 78
1990 48
2000 42
2009 21

Original Mennonite Encyclopedia Article

By John T. Neufeld. Copied by permission of Herald Press, Harrisonburg, Virginia, from Mennonite Encyclopedia, Vol. 2, p. 560. All rights reserved.

Grace Mennonite Church, located at 4221 South Rockwell St., Chicago, Illinois, began in 1917 as the Mennonite Bible Mission, under A. F. Wiens. In 1937, when Wiens died, John T. Neufeld became the leader. In 1940 the Home Mission Board began to help in the support of this work, and the church joined the Middle District Conference. The work is among people of many nationalities, mostly of Central European background. In 1955 the membership was 68, with John T. Neufeld still serving as pastor. A number of its members have served in foreign mission work.

Author(s) Samuel J Steiner
Date Published December 2022

Cite This Article

MLA style

Steiner, Samuel J. "Grace Community Church (Chicago, Illinois, USA)." Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. December 2022. Web. 22 May 2024.,_Illinois,_USA)&oldid=175020.

APA style

Steiner, Samuel J. (December 2022). Grace Community Church (Chicago, Illinois, USA). Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. Retrieved 22 May 2024, from,_Illinois,_USA)&oldid=175020.


Adapted by permission of Herald Press, Harrisonburg, Virginia, from Mennonite Encyclopedia, Vol. 2, p. 560. All rights reserved.

©1996-2024 by the Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. All rights reserved.