North Shore Baptist Church came into being because of the initiative of a mail carrier who noticed that many homes on his assigned route on the north side of Chicago were receiving Baptist literature. Also noticing that there was no Baptist church for miles around, he conceived the idea of getting the people together to see if they would be interested in establishing a Baptist church.
On March 31, 1905, some 25 people gathered to consider organizing a Baptist church. On May 4, 1905, the group pledged to organize themselves into a church, and they unanimously adopted the name North Shore Baptist Church. The charter roll included about 100 people from at least 38 different church backgrounds.
With dynamic preaching, active outreach efforts, an effective Sunday School program and a strong commitment to missions, North Shore grew spiritually and numerically, with attendance peaking at 2,300 in the mid-1940s. This growth pattern is reflected through the buildings which the church occupied over the years. Beginning with a small rented storeroom in 1906, the congregation moved to a larger nearby building in 1907; then to a new church building constructed at Lakewood and Berwyn in 1921. This building housed the sanctuary and offices. It was well known for the neon sign which hung over the sidewalk on Berwyn and could be seen from the “L” platform.
In 1929, the church purchased the house at 5240 to become an annex named for Pauline Kraft, wife of J.L. Kraft, founder of Kraft Foods. In 1934, the Kraft family gave the church a bas-relief sculpture by Loredo Taft, which had been installed in the Hall of Religions at the Century of Progress Exposition in Chicago. It was produced by Mr. Taft from a painting by Danish artist, Karl Bloch.
In the early 1950s, the church began a building program which involved the purchase of more property on Lakewood and the construction of the current sanctuary, with its 120 foot tower. The bas-relief was installed in the new building. Another chapel was constructed and dedicated to the Kraft family. It features a unique jewel window made entirely from translucent American jade.
In 1957, the original building at Berwyn was destroyed by fire and torn down. The classroom building was constructed in its place.
The congregations working together at North Shore Baptist Church include: the Chinese congregation, formed in 1926; the Japanese congregation, formed after World War II in 1954; the Hispanic congregation, founded in 1957; in addition, Filipino, Asian, African and Caribbean groups congregate at the Church.
From its founding in 1905 to the present, North Shore Baptist Church has held its doors open to the diverse communities of Chicago’s North Side.