Who Are We?
From its beginnings as a home Bible study to a flourishing inner-city church, the ministry of UBC stands as a symbol of hope and light in the midst of a seemingly dark and hopeless city. After years of ministry in Chicago, the church strives to carry out the vision and mission that God implanted in its founding members.
UBC was birthed out of the dramatic conversion of one man, Rev. James Queen. "I had a burden for the people of Chicago," Jim said. "Early in my Christian life, I made a commitment to see the city won to Christ."
This dream took form when the Chicago Metropolitan Baptist Association called Jim to be a church planter in Uptown. As a recent graduate of Southern Seminary and a boyhood resident of Uptown, he readily accepted the challenge in 1976. Through the support of other churches, groups and individuals who shared this vision, UBC took root as a small gathering in Jim's home. God blessed the group and opened doors in the community. The church moved into a warehouse in the summer of 1976.
Community outreach programs increased the visibility and effectiveness of the church in Uptown. UBC received national exposure within the Southern Baptist Convention through Home Mission Board Awareness Tours and support of the Women's Missionary Union.
Although the church enjoyed a prospering program, the SBC Home Mission Board, through its Friends of Evangelism program, wanted to find UBC a permanent home. Several existing buildings and locations were considered, but as Rev. Tim Larkin (Associate Pastor 1979-90) recalls, "God closed the doors, and we were not able to secure any of these locations."
A turning point came one night in 1979 when 12 church members met to write a constitution that would document their Christian philosophy of outreach to this complex inner-city neighborhood. Together with the ongoing dedication and enthusiasm of church friends, there was a powerful conviction that UBC would realize its dream.
Beginning in March 1979, UBC held monthly community Praise Services in a rented church building. "We wanted to buy the building. In November of 1980, I made one last appeal to their church board asking them to consider selling their building," Queen remembers. "They had no plans to sell." God had other plans. By March 1981, UBC had a permanent home in the same building. UBC was dedicated and constituted on September 27, 1981.
Many people contributed to the shaping of UBC. The worship style was forged from the gifts of Jim Larson. The outreach was forged by Tim Larkin, embracing focus groups from the neighborhood that that include street people, ethnic/language groups, single parent families, and seniors. Hmong, Cambodian, Vietnamese, and Eritrean language congregations were started at the church. Through Lindsay Cobb and Kevin Kane, refugee resettlement began and ESL classes were held at the church. Through the organizational gifts of Ken Oliver, the REST Shelter and Uptown Habitat For Humanity were started at UBC. The 80's and 90's brought many student leaders from Wheaton College, Trinity International University and Moody Bible Institute. During this time, Brian Bakke, son of pioneer urban missionary Ray Bakke, joined the staff and led UBC in arts (such as murals on several Uptown walls) and community activism and outreach.
UBC also led the Uptown neighborhood through a successful "Vote Dry" campaign. It took seven years of court battles before the liquor trucks started pulling alcohol off store shelves in the neighborhood.
In 1995, after looking at over 100 candidates, the search committee called Rev. Tom Maluga to be the new senior Pastor, and church ministries continued to grow. The second English service started on Easter Sunday of 1996. Soon afterward, Pastor Tom and the Elder board led the church in a movement of prayer. Wednesday night ministries (such as Bible studies and Sr. High Youth Group) were moved to other days of the week, leaving that night dedicated solely to prayer. Other new ministries included monthly all night prayer vigils, and stopping all ministries for a Week of Prayer, with the participants coming together for the sole purpose of prayer.
The physical facility has always presented a challenge. By 1987 tithing supported only 21% of the church budget and the building was in dire need of repair. The kitchen rehab was started and took six years to complete. Repair of the building's broken stained glass windows in the sanctuary and nursery was completed through the generous donation of UBC friends. The next year, a total renovation of the church sanctuary started. Over the next three years, all the oak trim was removed from the walls and windows for refinishing. The most dangerous section of stained glass was completely rebuilt and reinstalled, and all new electrical was run throughout the sanctuary.
In 1999 the women's drop-in center called Family Place opened. All staff (except the Senior Pastor) were now 100% supported by church tithes. UBC is now sponsoring three new works including a Gen-X church, a church plant in Albany Park and a Japanese church plant.
Mike Choby joined the staff as Worship Leader in 1998 but now serves as a band member for the Belarussian evangelistic band, "Spasenie." In summer of 2005, the members called Rev. Michael Allen to serve as Senior Pastor at UBC.
UBC continues to be a strong missions church both here and abroad. Outreach continues to different local ethnic groups and 10% of tithes goes to support local, state, and overseas missions. UBC has now sent out missionaries to eight different countries.
In 2011, Pastor Allen lead the church to fasting & praying to meet the 7 goals
- To grow by 100 baptisms and new members
- To experience a genuine renewal/revival of the Holy Spirit (personally, corporately, community-wide, city-wide and across our nation)
- To successfully implement the new 4 Pillar Church-wide Strategy
- To adopt the new constitution and bylaws this March
- To lower $200,000 from “the windows of Heaven” for our new elevator
- To become the steward of the parking lot currently in the stewardship of TCF Bank.
- To have greater Church unity