Iglesia Evangelica de Lawndale (Chicago, Illinois, USA)

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The Mennonite Mexican Church, Chicago, Illinois, USA, had its roots in the family of Manuel and Ignacia León, who immigrated to Chicago from Mexico in 1928 and became aware of the Chicago Home Mission through their children, who were invited to attend by two mission workers. The parents indicated they were Catholics but allowed their children to attend. They were soon won over by their acceptance at the mission and the Mennonite emphasis on Bible study. The entire León family soon worshipped regularly at the mission, where services were conducted in English.

In September 1932, Josephus W. Shank, on furlough from mission work in Argentina, began leading Spanish services at the mission. In 1933/34, Nelson Litwiller, another missionary on furlough, carried on the work. In 1934, David Castillo, who had a Pentecostal background, began leading the Hispanic congregation. On 29 April 1934, 100 persons gathered for the church's first nine baptisms.

The Hispanic mission moved to rented facilities on South Halstead Street in September 1934, and later on West Roosevelt Road, and in 1945 to South Miller Street. The Mexican mission separated from the Home Mission partly because of prejudice from some Anglo leaders who did not want "racial mixing."

In late 1951, the Mennonite Mexican Church began construction, and in 1952, it moved to a new sanctuary on Blue Island Street that it dedicated on 19 October 1952. Because of urban renewal, in 1964, it moved again to the Lawndale Baptist Church. By the end of 1964, it had acquired the building, originally the Hubbard Memorial Bohemian Presbyterian Church, before it was a Baptist church.

In 1942, the Hispanic mission formally organized as a separate congregation as the Mennonite Mexican Mission and was accepted into the Illinois Mennonite Conference of the Mennonite Church (MC). In early 1958, it changed its name to Second Mennonite Church of Chicago. In January 1965, after moving to a new location, it changed its name to Lawndale Mennonite Church. The name on its exterior sign by the 2010s was Iglesia Evangelica de Lawndale.

In the early 1980s and again in 1990, the church hosted the Chicago Mennonite Learning Center, a private school for kindergarten through grade 8 students. It also began to operate an emergency food pantry in the mid-1980s.

In April 1986, there was a division in the church over disagreements on forms of worship, church building usage, decision-making, and leadership. Pastor Hector Vasquez left with a group to form the Living Faith Church.


"Bro. John Litwiller...." Gospel Herald 45, no. 48 (23 November 1952): 1164.

"Chicago church relocates." Gospel Herald 57, no. 17 (5 May 1964): 383.

"Hispanic congregation feeds the hungry in Chicago." Gospel Herald 79, no. 4 (28 January 1986): 65.

Litwiller, John T. N. "Mennonite Mexican Church." Gospel Herald 45, no. 26 (24 June 1952): 625.

"The Mennonite Spanish Church in Chicago,..." Gospel Herald 51, no. 2 (14 January 1958): 37.

"The name of the Second Mennonite Church...." Gospel Herald 58, no. 2 (12 January 1965): 26.

"New worship center." Gospel Herald 58, no. 32 (17 August 1965): 726.

Smith, Willard H. Mennonites in Illinois. Studies in Anabaptist and Mennonite History, 24. Scottdale, Pa.: Herald Press, 1983: 387-388, 422-427, 547

"A split at Lawndale Mennonite Church...." Gospel Herald 79, no. 23 (10 June 1986): 408.

"What are the origins of Hispanic Mennonites in North America?" Thirdway. 2001. Web. 22 January 2024. http://thirdwaycafe.com/faq/what-are-the-origins-of-hispanic-mennonites-in-north-america/.

Yordy, Anna. "The beginning of the Chicago Mennonite Mexican Mission." Gospel Herald 37, no. 8 (26 May 1944): 146.

Additional Information

Address: 2520 South Lawndale Avenue, Chicago, Illinois 60623

Phone: 773-277-6665


Denominational Affiliations: Illinois Mennonite Conference

Mennonite Church USA

Pastoral Leaders at Lawndale Mennonite Church

Name Years
of Service
Josephus W. "J. W." Shank (1881-1970) 1932-1933
Nelson Litwiller (1898-1986) 1933-1934
David Castillo (1905-1986) 1934-1940
Lester T. Hershey (1912-2007) 1940-1947
Amos "Orley" Swartzentruber (1926-2019) 1947
D. Parke Lantz (1881-1962) 1947-1948
Frank M. Ventura (1925-?) 1948
Elvin V. Snyder (1900-1985) 1948-1949
William G. Lauver (1896-1984) 1949-1950
John T. N. Litwiller (1928-1971) 1951-1953
Mario O. Snyder 1953-1961
Donald L. Brenneman
Albert Landis 1966-1967
Jacob "Weldon" Martin (1918-1998) 1967-1970
Neftali Torres 1970-1972
William E. Hallman (1904-1993) 1970-1974
Ronald Collins 1974-1981
Lay Leadership 1981-1982
Hector Vazquez 1982?-1986
Samuel Pagan 1989-1990
Angel M. Cañon 1990-

Lawndale Mennonite Church Membership

Year Members
1934 14
1942 27
1950 48
1960 62
1970 64
1980 89
1990 67
2000 70
2009 80
2020 80

Author(s) Samuel J Steiner
Date Published January 2024

Cite This Article

MLA style

Steiner, Samuel J. "Iglesia Evangelica de Lawndale (Chicago, Illinois, USA)." Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. January 2024. Web. 17 Apr 2024. https://gameo.org/index.php?title=Iglesia_Evangelica_de_Lawndale_(Chicago,_Illinois,_USA)&oldid=178155.

APA style

Steiner, Samuel J. (January 2024). Iglesia Evangelica de Lawndale (Chicago, Illinois, USA). Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. Retrieved 17 April 2024, from https://gameo.org/index.php?title=Iglesia_Evangelica_de_Lawndale_(Chicago,_Illinois,_USA)&oldid=178155.

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