This document’s purpose is to provide a resource for anyone who is interested in learning some vital reliable truth concerning the history, and current protocol of God’s human creatures who call themselves the Pilgrim Rest Missionary Baptist Church of Chicago, Illinois. A church is not a building, but the people who congregate to worship and serve God in the name and power of Jesus the Christ make up the church. Pilgrim Rest is a flock of humans who have trials and tribulations like any other flock of humans. But although there is a myriad of Christian flocks that call themselves Pilgrim Rest, there is only one Pilgrim Rest Missionary Baptist Church of Chicago. And I am here to tell you more about Pilgrim Rest.
In 1928, at the home of Deacon and Sister Aaron Shinairel, Pilgrim Rest was inaugurated when a small group of baptized believers in Christ gathered with Pastor Will Jones [1st pastor]. The name Pilgrim Rest was recommended by Mother Millie Parker.
Pilgrim Rest’s first location was at Hermitage Avenue, near Roosevelt Road. Upon losing our Hermitage Avenue church headquarters in a mysterious fire, the church was led by Pastor Clemmons [2nd pastor] as we searched for a new headquarters. The search continued for a new headquarters under the leadership of Pastor Johnson [3rd pastor] and experienced a slow increase in membership as we constantly moved from meeting place to meeting place. Pilgrim Rest moved from the Branch Funeral Parlor on Blue Island Avenue to a headquarters located at 1249 West Roosevelt Road. While here God saw fit to replace Pastor Johnson with Pastor Joseph Stewart [4th pastor] of Baldwin, Michigan. Under the leadership of Pastor Baldwin, the church experienced a decline in membership that tempted some members of Pilgrim Rest to merge with another flock. Deacon Will Gore convinced Pilgrim Rest to avoid the merger. Less than half of the remaining ten-member flock gathered for prayer without a choir or pastor. In April 1937, a minister named Matthew Thomas [5th pastor] accepted God’s call to pastor our ten-member flock, initially, without a salary.
Pastor Thomas led the congregation into a headquarters at 1822 West Roosevelt in 1939 as God increased our membership, enabling us to purchase a headquarters at 1729 West Washburne. In 1941, our membership increased under the leadership of Pastor Thomas. Pilgrim Rest prospered to such a degree that, in the name of Christ, we raised $25,000.00 for the purchase of a larger headquarters to accommodate our growing flock. In 1949, we marched into a headquarters located at 1901-05 West Washington Boulevard on Chicago’s Greater Near Westside that we beautifully remodeled. Pilgrim Rest experienced continuous increase until 1985. Pastor Thomas’ good health declined until his homegoing on April 8th, 1987. He served Christ as our pastor for 50 years.
Under the guidance of Deacon Alexander Dunn, Jr., Pilgrim Rest prayed to the Good Lord for a new pastor. In 1992, we welcomed our new leader, Pastor M. C. Russell [6th pastor]. Unfortunately, our congregation experienced intense spiritual warfare for a season. On September 25th, 1993, we welcomed Dr. Al Lloyd as our 7th pastor.
God sent Pastor Lloyd as Pilgrim Rest was facing gentrification which changed the ethnic and socio-economic demographic of what once was our Henry Horner Community. Our community was renamed West Haven, and most of our contiguous residents were relocated to suburban residents. Pastor Lloyd guided Pilgrim Rest toward being a more servant-oriented and disciple-making congregation. He implemented new ministries and a church website. He has help Pilgrim Rest to face the impact of gentrification on Pilgrim Rest and her community.
Pilgrim Rest is blessed to be able to continue to minister to the community and its vicinity with food and clothing. We have been blessed with the implementation of new windows and a new church sign. Some of our events can be seen on You Tube [https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCFZcuxyvRbB1l4suZzQ6kWA/videos and https://www.youtube.com/results?search_query=Dr.+Al+Lloyd+Pilgrim+Rest+]and Facebook [https://www.facebook.com/pages/Pilgrim-Rest-Missionary-Baptist-Church/108246235883320].
Pilgrim Rest also celebrates her associate preachers who have gone on to pastor other flocks. They include pastors Clarence Hopson (Broadview), the late James Harvey (El Bethel), Marcus Beckham (New St. John), Marvell Beckham (Gospel Temple), Charles Gordon (Covenant Chapel), Columbus Ewing (Community Fellowship), and Charles Robertson (Original Rising Star). Pilgrim Rest is one of God’s kingdom congregations. Our main goal is to please God according to 2 Corinthians 5:9 and Hebrews 11:6!