For the 52 people who were the charter members of Northwest Covenant Church, it was not a desire to leave the churches they had been attending, but a desire to have a church that was close to home. They had all settled in the Mount Prospect area, but were still traveling to the churches they had previously attended. So, on June 5, 1955, these 52 people gathered at Fairview Elementary School for their first worship service. The feeling, one charter member says today, was that they were “one great big family.”
Purchase of the property at the corner of Elmhurst Avenue and Isabella Avenue followed on September 15th of the same year. The old farmhouse on the property served as the Sanctuary, Sunday school rooms, and offices until the new church Sanctuary was built in 1958-59. The first service in the farmhouse celebrated Christmas on December 23, 1955. Those who have been around awhile chuckle over the story of the day when a little boy was using the bathroom. The service could not begin on time because the choir always had to go through the bathroom to enter the worship area, and the little boy was taking his time!
Ground breaking for the new Sanctuary was on May 28, 1958, and the first service in the new Sanctuary was in March 1959. During construction, church members eagerly and devotedly kept tabs on the building project. A day of particular importance was the day that the beautiful stained glass cross was set into place on the east wall of the Sanctuary.
In the years that followed, adjacent properties were purchased or donated. The house at 301 N. Eastwood house became the Youth House. The 309 N. Eastwood house was a parsonage for many years, before becoming a private residence once again.
From the start, the congregation knew that Sunday School space was drastically insufficient, and the building of the education wing was greatly anticipated. On April 28, 1963, ground was broken for the new education wing. Almost exactly a year later, on April 18, 1964, the education wing was dedicated and ready for use.
By December 1973 the church was free of mortgage debt. By 1985 the pipe organ, still currently in use, was paid off.
By 1990, there was much discussion about whether or not the current facility was serving the needs of the congregation. A committee was formed called HRVD (pronounced Harvard.) The name came from taking the first initial of its four committee members. Its purpose was to consider the question more carefully, and to explore the possibility of seeking a new location for a larger church facility. In 1991 the congregation voted to relocate. By 1994, a suitable property on Rand Road in Arlington Heights was identified, and the purchase was made. In 1999, the HRVD committee (by then, it had become HRVD +2) disbanded and was replaced with the Planning and Visioning Committee. This committee was charged with the responsibility of doing the nuts and bolts work to define the needs of the congregation, seek and hire an architect, and implement the plan.
The Rand Road property was paid in full by late 2000. It became known as the Rand Road Campus, and has been used since its purchase for events such as picnics, concerts, fun fairs, Vacation Bible School, and other meetings and activities. The house on the property has been the home to Young Life, a ministry to high school students. It also housed the Northwest Music Academy, a ministry of Northwest Covenant Church for many years.
As plans began to come together for the new facility on Rand Road, the congregation focused its energy on “the move.” Plans were made, inventories were completed and temporary facilities were explored. But our timing is not always God’s timing, as we have not been able to sell the current campus in Mt. Prospect. As a congregation, we continually seek His guidance and will. In the meantime, we have refocused our energies toward mission work, fellowship, and seeking ways to strengthen our ministries as a congregation.
In April 2009 the church began offering an option for contemporary worship on Sunday mornings. Planning for this worship style was in the works for many months prior, with a devoted group of people called the AWE (Alternative Worship Experience) committee at the helm.
The history of Northwest Covenant Church is not just a history of construction dates, decisions made, and bills paid off. It is a history of its people, who, for more than 50 years, have devoted themselves to service in Christ’s name. In everything from the service projects of Men’s Fellowship and Women’s Fellowship, from Food Rescues to filling backpacks for needy children, from Habitat for Humanity projects to mission trips, Northwest has tried to be the hands of God in a world in need.
As we look toward the future we continue to seek God’s guidance and His will for our congregation. As a congregation of families, couples, and singles, both young and old, we value our past, but also reach to the future to find new ways to worship, to minister to others, and to fellowship together.