HISTORY OF THE MINISTRY
Glad Tidings Gospel Mission - Englewood, IL
In 1941, Glad Tidings Gospel Mission began in the Englewood neighborhood of Chicago, Illinois, just a few blocks West of Halsted Avenue, on South 63rd Street. At that time in the Chicago’s history, 63rd Street and Halsted Avenue was a busy intersection with many businesses, shops, and taverns. Next to State and Madison, this was one of the most traveled areas of the city. Mary (Moe) Van Vossen can remember going down to 63rd Street with her father and mother, “We’d plunk down this little organ that you would pump with your feet, and I’d play that while they sang and had a church service right there. We had special music and preaching and people would stand around and sing with you.”
An Englewood resident, Mrs. Lula Orwick, lived in a second floor apartment and watched in disgust and fear of the many negative things that happened in her neighborhood. It was fairly common for families to endure severe financial challenges due to the influence of alcohol among the men in their community. One would often see intoxicated people sleeping in alleys and gutters, leaning on buildings and finding trouble. Lula noticed that some of the men who struggled with alcohol addiction seemed to spend most of their hours on the street corners, so she approached Englewood resident Harold Moe to ask if he would be willing to consider opening a Christian ministry for men in the community. Lula wanted to share God’s love and mercy with the men in the area and hoped this would improve their lives.
At this time, Harold Moe lived in the Englewood community with his wife, Mary, and their children Mary, Shirley, and Arlene. Harold Moe was a strong Christian man completing evening courses at Moody Bible Institute, and he felt that the Lord was laying it on his heart to open up a ministry to support the men in the community. His daughter Mary recalls, “the mission was my Dad’s heart, and his heart was completely in it.” Harold, however, did not have the funding or the space to begin the mission. Lula Orwick was essential in getting the doors of the mission open to neighborhood men on Monday, Thursday, and Sunday evenings through her generous financial assistance. She continued to support the mission and live in Englewood until she passed away.
The building that would become home to Glad Tidings Gospel Mission until 1978 was a two story, single wide, city building typical of others neighborhood buildings. What the building lacked in width, it made up in length, as it has been described as an “extra long” building. During the 1960’s Bob Van Vossen and almost all of the Mission board members dedicated many Saturdays to digging out a basement for the building, using no modern or expensive machinery. Many hands came together to shovel dirt, push and pull heavy wheelbarrows, and pour concrete to help create a usable space to meet the growing needs of the Mission. The basement was essential, as it served as space for the kitchen, dining room, and showers that were used by the men who visited. The first floor of the building contained the chapel, superintendent’s office, multi-purpose room, and restroom. The Glad Tidings chapel could comfortably seat between 40-50 people on folding chairs and had a stage with a pulpit and baby grand piano. Several times during the week the multi-purpose room was used for children’s groups, bible studies, board meetings, teen shop classes, women’s groups, and counseling. Once the mission began providing overnight accommodations, the second floor was used for sleeping quarters accommodating up to 30 men and also included a partial kitchen.
Ministry at the Mission
Glad Tidings Gospel Mission began as a neighborhood mission, offering services to families in the area until 1978. It was the hope of Harold Moe and the board members that they could support the struggling men of the community, as well as their families who were greatly challenged by their poor choices. Glad Tidings Gospel Mission was proudly grounded in a strong Biblical foundation. Those who worked and volunteered at the mission were committed to sharing the Gospel, creating disciples of Christ, and showing God’s love to those in need. During its time on 63rd Street, Glad Tidings provided food, clothing, shelter, and counseling to men and families in the area, coordinated children’s ministries, and facilitated a nightly worship service. Mary (Neuhauser) Moe also started a Christian bookstore on 63rd Street near the mission in the 1950s. The Mitchell and Jacobson families served as superintendents and also lived at the Mission during the 1940s and 1950s.
Area men and families could visit the mission for food, clothing, job referrals, and sleeping accommodations as needed. Volunteers would help men look for jobs and refer them to available positions. Families and individuals could pick up food donated by area churches and grocery stores weekly. This ministry was used by many during Thanksgiving and Christmas. During the holidays people could pick up a food bundle or have it delivered by the mission staff. Beginning in the 1960s, the mission began providing meals and sleeping arrangements for men on the second floor of the building on a first-come, first-served basis. Those seeking shelter were expected to attend a worship service, and were then provided food and shelter. Men were not denied sleeping accommodations if they were intoxicated, but they were asked to leave if they became unruly. Gene O’Brien served as superintendent beginning in the 1960s and lived on the first floor of the Mission with his family.
Bob Van Vossen coordinated a children’s group on Saturday mornings. Beginning at 7:30am, along with David and Arlene, two of Harold and Mary Moe’s children, he would drive a bus around the neighborhood picking up between 30-40 children and bringing them to Glad Tidings for Bible study, crafts, games, and singing. Glad Tidings had a strong children’s ministry which also included a camping ministry with Twin State Christian Camp, which was located about 60 miles south of Chicago and was staffed by Pastor Brown and his wife. Thanks to financial support, neighborhood children were able to attend Twin State free of charge and spend a bit of time in the outdoors learning about and celebrating God. Al Jacobson served on the board of both Glad Tidings and Twin State Christian Camp, working as a liaison between the two ministries. Al remembers spending many work days at the camp preparing it for the arrival of the campers as well as spending time with them during their experience.
The Mission also offered afternoon shop classes for boys and youth participated in Child Evangelism Fellowship, which provided programming each afternoon after school. Grant Kelly, Glad Tidings Gospel Ministry superintendent from 1970-1975, remembers that the children who spent time in the mission loved to sing. He can recall times when 40 to 50 children filled the chapel making a joyful noise to the Lord. Some of the favorite songs of the Mission include: Amazing Grace, In the Garden, Love Lifted Me, Steal Away to Jesus, The Last Mile of the Way, There is Power in the Blood, What a Friend We Have in Jesus, When the Roll is Called up Yonder, and Victory in Jesus.
Many helped with and led the nightly worship services. Mary (Moe) Van Vossen remembers, “I was around nine years old and they (the Mission) didn’t have a piano player, so my dad had me play. I couldn’t really play at that time, so I would strike one note to get them started. That is how I learned to play by ear, because I would have to add a few notes to fill out the song.” Area churches were often involved by providing worship service support, with members volunteering to lead music or providing a sermon for a given night which provided valuable support to the ministry. Harold Moe or other mission volunteers would fill-in with the sermon and music when church groups were unable to fulfill their commitment. On many occasions Harold Moe’s daughters, Mary and Shirley, would serve as impromptu singers. Debbie (Moe) Bruna remembers joining her parents at the mission several times a month to sing special music with Mary Moe while Harold gave the sermon and led the congregational songs.
As the neighborhood changed, the mission adapted to better minister to the needs of the community. Grant Kelly opened up a thrift store near the Mission in the 1970s. He also planned to turn a building next to the Mission into a youth center, but struggled to raise enough funds to bring this dream to reality. The focus of the Mission would become serving men, but women and children were often served if they presented a need. Men who attended counseling and worship services at the mission could become on “program” where they were given additional privileges and responsibilities. The program at Glad Tidings looked similar to those at other area missions such as Pacific Garden Mission. Additionally, men on program would be expected to attend training workshops and special group sessions with other men on program. Men who did well on program participated in evening chores and were able to store some personal items at the Mission. They also competed to be the assistant to the superintendent. The assistant would receive a small stipend, stay in the small private sleeping area in the rear of the dormitory, and assist in supervising the male guests.
The mission also endured challenges and heartbreak—not all days were easy. Many of the men who visited the mission would sleep on or near railroad tracks behind the building, often intoxicated and in freezing winter conditions. One time a man fell asleep on the tracks and his legs were severed by a passing train. It was not uncommon for supplies from the mission to be stolen or for men to threaten staff with knives and guns. Men visiting the mission had several rules that had to be followed, and when they were too intoxicated or unruly to follow the rules, they were asked, or forced, to leave the building. Sometimes men left willingly and other times Mission staff and volunteers had to forcibly remove them from the premises. Grant Kelly will never forget a specific night when a guest named, Walter would not attend the chapel service and chose to go directly upstairs to bed. Grant remembers, “Walter said, ‘I ain’t coming!’ to which I said, ‘Walter, you have to go because you’ll set a pattern for all the rest of the men and they’ll want to do what you do and get away with it.” After explaining the consequences of not following the rules, Grant began the process of removing Walter from the building. Grant states “here are the guys sitting in the chapel service waiting for me to come and conduct the service, well, I have to do this job first!” Eventually, after both Grant and Walter struggled for control of the situation, Grant was able to remove Walter from the building and lead the worship service.
Christian Haven Home
In 1950, mission supporter and volunteer guitar player, Ray McDonald donated land located in Wheatfield, Indiana, about 90 minutes from Chicago. Originally it was Ray’s hope that the land could be used to expand the work of Glad Tidings by serving as a place of employment for men seeking services at the mission. When that did not work out, Ray’s dream of creating a Christian home for boys without a place to stay took flight. With the assistance of some board members from Glad Tidings Gospel Ministry (including Harold and Mary Moe, Bob and Mary (Moe) Van Vossen), June and Gene O’Brien, and John Wilkinson, worked with Ray McDonald to raise buildings, solicit funds, and create the infrastructure to run a residential home for boys which would become Christian Haven Homes. The O’Brien’s continued their service to Christian Haven Homes by becoming house parents to the children residing on the campus for many years. In 1959, Christian Haven Homes became its own non-profit and no longer was affiliated with Glad Tidings, although many people served on both boards for many years. Christian Haven is still in operation serving boys and girls who need a stable home and to be shown the love and grace of God. This history of Christian Haven was captured in a book by Dr. Alan Keith-Lucas entitled, Bridging the Gap: The Story of Christian Haven Homes: The First 35 Years.
Glad Tidings Gospel Mission was supported financially by individuals, families, and churches with some churches giving monthly gifts. Glad Tidings board members, along with a few men who received services from the Mission, would often make church visits to seek financial support. Grocery stores provided many donations which were used to serve meals. Furniture stores often donated dormitory beds. Glad Tidings had a Women’s Auxiliary that solicited donations, knitted and crocheted lap blankets, sewed quilts and created a newsletter to share information about the mission to stakeholders. Without the dedication of many people who volunteered their time and their financial means, Glad Tidings would not have been able to touch so many lives.
People involved in the Mission agree that they felt God’s hand blessing all aspects its work. Grant Kelly fondly remembers a story of God’s presence in the ministry:
“I had a guy named James who used to help me out. I said, “James, we have five or six more beds out in the garage, put out those beds.” He said, “well, we don’t have mattresses for them,” and I said, “just put them up anyway and we’ll trust the Lord for the mattresses.” Do you know that either the next day or the same day, here comes a guy by the Mission with a bunch of mattresses! He says, “hey, do you need any mattresses?” I said “ya, we just prayed for mattresses!” God was working in that ministry. God was there. He was God in that ministry.”
Mary (Moe) Van Vossen remembers:
“Sometimes you don’t know…men sit in the Mission and they come forward and say yes, I commit my life to the Lord, and then you never hear from them again, and you never know what happens. Once, my dad (Harold Moe) was in California for a Rescue Mission conference, and he met a superintendent in that Mission who had been saved at Glad Tidings! …All the years that you think, well, I wonder if this is really working, and then you hear about somebody and yes, it changed their life. That is what makes it all worthwhile.”
Al Jacobson remembers that many times it was difficult to pay the bills of the Mission and the staff. God repeatedly provided financially for the needs of the Mission. “It seemed that whenever we were broke, somehow the money would come in. It would amaze you that sometimes the money would just come in when you least expected it.” Several people left significant amounts of money to the Mission in their wills which always seemed to come at a time when it was most needed.
Glad Tidings Gospel Ministry - A New Direction
1978 - Present
Tragedy struck the mission in 1978 when a fire was started on the steps of the building. Glad Tidings staff put it out, but it began again and by the time the fire was completely extinguished, the structure of the building was severely compromised. Even with the assistance of insurance money and donations, the mission was not able to rebuild to accommodate the programs that were previously housed there. To this day, no one can confirm who set fire to the mission or why.
As members of the Glad Tidings board began to heal from the tragedy of the fire and consider how God would have the mission continue to bless the inner-city, they were struck by the idea of supporting Biblically educated pastors. In the 1960s and 1970s it was becoming a strong trend in the inner-city to have vacant buildings turn into storefront churches led by men who called themselves “founder and pastor” but had not taken courses to accurately preach and teach the Bible to their congregation. It was common knowledge that many of the pastors of these store front churches were preaching. Many of these pastors were not able to attend Bible college due to financial constraints, but many pastors simply did not choose to attend. Glad Tidings board members felt God leading them to use the insurance money from the mission tragedy in 1978 to give partial scholarships to people looking to be pastors in the inner-city. It was the dream of the Glad Tidings Board to see store front churches being led by biblically educated pastors and lay people. With this, Glad Tidings could continue to touch the lives of those in the inner-city with God’s love, mercy, and teachings. God has continued to bless Glad Tidings Gospel Ministry in its current state as a scholarship board.
Many board members and Mission supporters continued to be actively involved in the Glad Tidings scholarship board including: Dean Baldwin, Al Jacobsen, Grant Kelly, Harold Moe, Garland Singletary, Robert Van Vossen, and John Wilkinson. Garland Singletary later went on to receive a degree from Dallas Theological Seminary and returned to Chicago to serve as a professor at Moody Bible Institute.
Beginning in 1981 with $25,000 in insurance money, the Glad Tidings Gospel Ministry Board began awarding scholarships to individuals interested in expanding their Biblical education to serve the inner-city in ministry. In 1982 Glad Tidings held their first banquet to benefit the scholarship fund with approximately 125 people in attendance. When the scholarship board first began many of the recipients were recruited from area churches. Board members had connections with Dallas Theological Seminary who sent along several applications, and John Wilkinson shared information about the scholarship program with Trinity International University. In its first year the scholarship board gave out 3-5 scholarships per semester ranging from $300-$400 each. Currently the board gives 6-8 scholarships per semester ranging from $600-$700. As is the practice in the current workings of the board, it is the hope that Glad Tidings can continue to support students until their degree is completed.
As of 2011, the Glad Tidings Gospel Ministry has awarded over $200,000 in scholarships to students attending over 25 different faith-based colleges, universities, and seminaries. The Board is currently made up of several people who were present to see and participate in the work of the Mission in Englewood and others newer to the ministry that are dedicated to financially blessing individuals who seek Biblical education.
Al Jacobson became involved in Glad Tidings in 1967 when he was invited by two members of his church, Christian Hills Full Gospel Church (Orland Hills, IL), to join the board. Al was gifted with numbers and used his talents to provide leadership over the budget, visiting the Mission several days a week to pick up the mail and take care of the bills. He prepared receipts when donations were received and coordinated the yearly tax statements receipts for donors. Al was able to see firsthand the faithfulness of God as He provided financially for Glad Tidings Gospel Ministry. When Al’s church would work at the Mission he would often lead worship and ministering to the men.
Grant Kelly first became involved in the ministry in 1966 when he was recruited by Harold Moe. He served as the assistant superintendent to Mr. Macintosh for about 18 months, prior to being the superintendent (1970-1975). Grant stated that the mission had to “change with the times and roll with the punches.” He remembers his time as superintendent with fondness, the 16-hour days that involved ministering to the men of the mission by cooking meals, conducting gospel services each night, breaking up fights, facilitating daily counseling sessions with clients, and picking up donated furniture, appliances, and food.
Bob Van Vossen first became aware of the work of the Mission when he was dating Mary (Moe) Van Vossen. If he planned to pick Mary up for a date, he would often have to wait until she was done playing the piano at the Mission. Bob soon began leading in many ministry areas and serving on both the Glad Tidings and Christian Haven Home Boards. He sees the historical value of Glad Tidings as a Mission and in its current state as a scholarship board, assisting students in obtaining a Biblically-grounded education to enable them to provide leadership in ministry.
Throughout the years, several scholarship recipients stand out to the board, including:
Dr. Carl Broggi - Senior Pastor, Community Bible Church, Beaufort, SC
Carl received a Bachelor of Science degree in Accounting from Boston College and graduated with a Master of Theology from Dallas Seminary and a Doctorate in Theology from Southwestern Theological Seminary. Dr. Broggi and his wife, Audrey, have five children and have been in Beaufort since July of 1990, when Carl was called to be the pastor of our church. Dr. Broggi's radio ministry, Search the Scriptures, can be heard locally on WAGP, 88.7 FM and also on other affiliate radio stations in North and South Carolina, Maine, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, and Florida.
Pastor Kevin James - Senior Pastor, New Community Bible Fellowship, Cleveland, Ohio
Pastor James, along with his wife Tanya, founded the New Community Bible Fellowship Church in Cleveland in 1994. Currently he serves as Senior Pastor and works alongside a staff of 17.
Evy Smith - Missionary, Christian Reformed World Missions, Mali, Africa
Evy Smith lives in Mali where she interacts with the local Muslim women. Along with evangelism and discipleship, she is involved in various projects which include a women's association and literacy programs.
Pastor Bill Welzien - Keys Evangelistic Ministries, Key West, Florida
Each night at Mallory Square in Key West, Florida, thousands of tourists attend the Sunset Festival which features dozens of street performers, musicians, artists, and food stands. What many tourists and street performers might not be expecting is to hear Pastor Bill make a sobering presentation of the glorious Gospel of Jesus Christ using open air evangelism. Bill declares to all who will listen that there is a God, that he is the creator of all, and that he speaks to man through the Bible. Bill concludes by calling his listeners to repentance and faith in the living God and inviting any with questions to come and speak with him. The gospel message is not unique to Bill as an evangelist but the venue at Mallory Square is truly unique.
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