CELEBRATING 65 YEARS
“Where there is no vision, the people perish:” Proverbs 29:18
In November of 1955, Deacon Alfred (Roberta) Robinson, Louis (Orina) Penn, Cornell Blake and their families, had a vision to plant and start a church in the Orchard Park community of Rockford, IL. These men and women were Community Leaders, Local Activists, Business Owners and committed to seeing growth on Rockford’s west-end. They were also committed to obeying the Lord and doing His will. It was out of their obedience and determination that Washington Park Christian Church, now affectionately known as ‘The Park’, was birthed.
“There is an appointed time for everything. And there is a season for every event under the heavens.” Ecclesiastes 3:1
Over its 65+ year history, Washington Park experienced many different seasons of ministry, membership growth and changes in leadership and through it all, the Lord was faithful. Over the church’s long tenure, there were several Pastors who served the ministry faithfully. However, it would be under the leadership of the husband and wife team of Jesse and Mary Allen - Washington Park’s longest serving Pastor’s - that the church would grow, flourish and thrive. Under their leading, Washington Park reached the spiritual heights and supernatural depths its founding members had prayed for so long before.
“The Lord makes firm the steps of the one who delights in him.” Psalms 37:23
Estella Benford was sent to Washington Park in 1984 as a Forerunner before the ministry of Pastor’s Jesse and Mary Allen. Estella Benford was a highly anointed and truly gifted woman of God. From 1984 – 1985, the Lord would use her to shift and change the spiritual fabric of Washington Park. In addition to teaching, preaching and intercessory prayer, Estella Benford was also the Interim Leader of Washington Park during its season of transition before Pastor’s Jesse and Mary. Her greatest contribution, however, would be teaching on the power of the Holy Spirit and the Spiritual Gifts. Because of this, a spiritual re-birth happened in Washington Park that set the ministry course anew.
In 1985, Estelle Benford had fulfilled her calling and finished her assignment at Washington Park. She had obeyed the Lord and because of her sincere obedience, Washington Park was ready to receive its new Leaders – Pastor Jesse and Co-Pastor Mary Allen.
“Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward. You are serving the Lord Jesus Christ.” Colossians 3:23-24
When you think of Washington Park’s Legacy – you think of Jesse and Mary Allen. In 1985, Jesse and Mary Allen became Pastors of Washington Park Christian Church, where they served faithfully for 35 years. They were both devoted to the call the Lord had given them and they were committed to leading under the power of the Holy Spirit. They were Pastors who led well, studied the word of God, believed in mentoring and training young ministers and both embodied the very meaning of ‘living holy.’ Also, both believed that Washington Park was a true ‘Body Ministry.’ If you were called - you served! They spent a large part of their ministries and personal lives pouring into young people and challenged them to not only walk in obedience, but to also live a life worthy of the calling on their lives.
These beloved Pastors were married for 52 wonderful years. They were well known, incredibly faithful and deeply loved by many. Their legacy and what they accomplished through the power and leading of the Holy Spirit will live on for years to come through the ministry of Washington Park Christian Church.
“Proclaiming the kingdom of God and teaching the things concerning the Lord Jesus Christ with full boldness and without hindrance.” Acts 28:31
In 2020, Charles (Recee) and Sheila Hill became the Lead Pastors of Washington Park Christian Church. This dynamic husband and wife team were brought up under the tutelage and discerning guidance of Pastor’s Jesse and Mary Allen. And like their predecessors before them, Pastor’s Recee and Sheila have genuine hearts for God’s people and to be servant leaders. Since assuming leadership of The Park Church, Pastor’s Recee and Sheila have been focused on growing and building the ministry. Not only are they committed to carrying the mantle that has been placed on them, they fully trust the Lord to usher The Park into this new and exciting season of ministry!
Pastor’s Recee and Sheila began their individual and collective ministries at Washington Park in 1997. And while they have served in various capacities such as Sunday School Superintendents, Bible Study Teachers, Devotional Leaders and Mentors – their true passion is to see the Men and Women walk fully in their God-given callings. This love has birthed their own marriage, men, and women ministries.
Pastor’s Recee and Shelia are truly focused on the Kingdom of God and seeing His will be done in the lives of His people. As leaders, they’re committed to The Park being a church of the community and to see the west end of Rockford thrive and flourish.
They are committed to The Park being a church that supports Missions work – regionally, nationally and internationally. They are committed to The Park being a purpose-driven church – one that believes in it’s members living out their God-given purposes and walking fully in those callings. They’re committed to The Park equipping and growing servant-leaders. And lastly, they’re committed to living a life pleasing and acceptable to their heavenly Father.
The Park Church continues to be a church that desires to see the Kingdom, God’s Kingdom advance here on earth.