Who Are We?
We are a family-centered church in the village of Manteno in Northern Kankakee County. Located 40 miles south of the Chicago loop, we are a mix of rural and urban, small-town and suburb, but mostly we are a church journeying together trying to be faithful to God's call to go and make disciples. We are a mix of young and old, farmer and professor, long-time church goer and those who are not sure if church is for them.
We are people seeking to be transparent, loving, genuine, authentic, and to understand that church can sometimes be imperfect. We enjoy being with one another and are excited when new people join in. If you decide to come visit us on a Sunday we have a traditional service (8:30AM) and a contemporary (11:00AM) service. We hope you will come as you are and we hope that you will see a part of the Kingdom of God in our time together!
2011 marked the 50th year in the life of Manteno Church of the Nazarene. We would like to share with you the history of the church, but also give you a flavor of what the church has been through the years.
Beginning in 1953, Frances and Ortive Welch lead a Bible study among employees at Manteno State Hospital. When an Olivet professor and the District Superintendent encouraged the Welches to establish a church in Manteno, they looked for property in Manteno to hold Sunday services. In October 1960, a house at 47 Adams Street was rented and became the first home for this small congregation. Olivet students were called upon to teach Sunday School and play the piano. (The first piano was purchased by "selling" the piano keys for $5 a key.) The Welches and their sons, David and Jonathan, provided most of the special music since they were all exceptionally gifted singers. (Jonathan later became a renowned opera singer.) On May 14, 1961, the Manteno Church of the Nazarene was organized with 11 charter members. Rev. Frances Welch, who was an ordained minister, became their first pastor.
As the congregation grew, the need for a permanent church home became evident. With the help of the district, a 4-acre parcel on Highway 50 at the edge of town was purchased. By 1963, an L-shaped building housed the church and the pastor's home on that property. There was a sanctuary that could seat 100 people on the first level along with the pastor's residence consisting of a small living room, a kitchen and 3 small bedrooms. Sunday School classes were held in the basement.
The Welch's mission at Manteno was to establish the foundation upon which everything that came after was built. In 1967, when the Welches accepted a call to a Danville church, R.L. Lunsford, the professor at Olivet Nazarene College, who had urged the Welches to establish the church, agreed to accept an interim position for no longer than six weeks while the church and District Superintendent searched for their next pastor. That six-week interim position lasted six and a half years. While it would have been tempting to fill the church with nearby Olivet students, Rev. Lunsford felt an urgency to establish the church as a solid community-based church. In addition to a growing church during those years, there was also a second congregation of Arabic speaking members that met on Sunday afternoons for several years. Under Rev. Lunsford's leadership, the congregation grew to the point that it became urgent that additional space be found. In 1970, the congregation stepped out in faith and entered into their first building project. A 2,320 square foot addition was added to the back of the church to provide for additional Sunday School rooms and two church offices. You can still see the brick wall in the teen department, which was the back of the original church building.