Harvest Bible worship marks 25 years of ministry worldwide
Dave and Peggy Shumway of Palatine took a large sticker and placed it on the large board under the year 2007.
That was the year the couple joined the Harvest Bible Chapel seeking new direction. Peggy had just been through a rough period, and Dave longed to be baptized.
"They had real clear preaching of what the Bible has to say and clear focus in the church, and I am now living it out," Dave Shumway said.
The Shumways were among thousands of other Harvest Bible Chapel members who gathered Saturday at Boomers Stadium in Schaumburg to mark the global church's 25th anniversary under its founder and leader, Pastor James MacDonald, who gave the sermon to mark the event.
A 500-person choir, the church's band, and special guest performers Paul Baloche and Heather Headley led the crowd in Christian songs with a rock-star quality as many people reached toward heaven and others swayed to the music.
Harvest Bible Chapel is among the largest churches in the United States with about 13,000 members. Seven area locations include Elgin, Niles, Crystal Lake, Aurora and Winnetka. Another 93 churches are in more than a dozen countries, including Mexico, Australia, India and Liberia.
Since tickets weren't provided for the special service, the crowd was difficult to estimate.
While many laid sticker after sticker on the chronological boards that marked the church's history, others talked or ate from the concession stands.
"I was new from California and was searching for a church," said Tara Aronson of Wauconda after placing her sticker on the board. Aronson has been a member since 1996. "We had visited this church and suddenly I felt the warmth of the people and the message really hit home."
The stage was flanked by flags representing the churches worldwide and translations were available for Spanish- and Polish-speaking members, as well as those with hearing loss, said church spokeswoman Sharon Kostal.
Kostal could not provide an estimated cost to produce the event, and no admission fee was charged since the event was considered their regular weekend religious service. However, donations were accepted.
Organizers also set up tables to sell souvenirs, such as T-shirts for $12 to $25, a CD collection of the pastor's 25 years of sermons for $40, small footballs for $7, and water bottles for $10.
Proceeds will help the church with its ministry and expansion plans.
Harvest Bible plans to add 15 more churches worldwide, said Kirk VanMaanen of Elgin, who heads the international church planting ministry.
"We hope to get as many as 1,000 churches planted in our lifetime," he said.