Calvary Memorial Church

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Calvary Memorial Church
Country United States
Denomination Non-Denominational, Evangelical Christian
Senior pastor(s) Todd Wilson

Calvary Memorial Church is an independent church in Oak Park, Illinois.


In the winter of 1915, a few families from about five different area churches, representing different denominations and traditions, gathered in a home with the idea of starting a new church. These founders wanted this new church to be free of denominational ties and yet faithful to the Bible. On March 21, 1915, Madison Street Church met for the first time in a rented storefront on Madison Street. Their first budget was less than $100. In 1937, the name was changed to Madison Street Bible Church, and in 1959 to Calvary Memorial Church, its present name. A fire destroyed much of the facility in 1977 (at which time the buildings had been heavily remodeled and expanded), and the congregation purchased its present building on Lake Street in the heart of Oak Park from the First Presbyterian Church.[1][2]

That current building is in the Richardsonian Romanesque style, and was modeled on Trinity Church in Boston, with such featured as cylindrical towers with conical caps and a clay roof. First Presbyterian Church built the sanctuary in 1902, added a Sunday school building in 1911, and a church house in 1930. Extensive renovations occurred in 1958. Calvary completed its own renovations to the building in 2004.


Thirteen men have served Calvary Memorial Church as senior pastor (or the historical equivalent of that position).

  • Dr. Louis Talbot (1915–1917)
  • Rev. J.C. O'Hair (1917–1920)
  • Rev. James Emblen (1924–1926)
  • Rev. Robert J. Devine (1926–1933)
  • Rev. Arthur H. Fardon (1935–1943)
  • Dr. Wayne E. Buchanan (1943–1945)
  • Rev. Gordon B. Kemble (1945–1951)
  • Rev. John R. Emmans (1952–1958)
  • Rev. Robert O. Gray (1958–1974)
  • Dr. Donald R. Gerig (1976–1986)
  • Dr. Ray Pritchard (1988–2005)
  • Dr. Todd A. Wilson (2008–present)

Emergency Clothes Closet[edit]

In 2009, Calvary launched a new ministry to provide clothing to individuals and families in need in the Oak Park area. The Closet is open on Saturday mornings from November through April, and is staffed by volunteers from the congregation. The clothing items are donated by congregants as well as area residents.[3][4]

External links[edit]