Winnetka Presbyterian Church

Winnetka Presbyterian Church, 2013. Credit: Winnetka Presbyterian Church

Gazette Article by Dee Nahigian, Winter 1999
Updated November 17, 2021

Although Winnetka Presbyterian is one of Winnetka’s newer churches, only a few of the families who founded the church in the mid-1950s still reside in the village. The first full-time pastor, Dr. Lloyd John Ogilvie, left to serve as Chaplain to the United States Senate.

Under the leadership of the Reverend Dr. Martha Page Greene in the late 1990s, Winnetka Presbyterian experienced steady growth in membership and programs. A new organ was installed, and youth and young peoples’ programs grew dramatically. In 1999 alone, the high school group skied in Colorado, rock climbed in Wisconsin, and helped build a Presbyterian orphanage south of Tijuana, Mexico. Another welcome development for the church was the arrival of the Reverend John Gilbert, who accepted a call to become a pastor in October 1999.

When she arrived at Winnetka Presbyterian in 1995, Dr. Greene became the first woman to be called a senior pastor in the history of the Presbytery of Chicago. Coming from western Michigan where she had served several churches, she combined personal warmth with stimulating biblical preaching, and involved herself in every phase of the local church activities.

“A building program was the last thing I wanted when I came here,” Greene said, “but over the past four years it became increasingly obvious that the Strategic Mission and Ministry Plan approved by our Session faced severe constraints in the physical facilities we have to implement the Plan and serve people.”

In April 1999, the church hired the Mekus Studios, a Chicago architect and design firm, to develop a Master Plan. Mekus interviewed leaders, staff and members regarding their hopes and dreams for Winnetka Presbyterian, ultimately arriving at the Master Plan from a combination of the best of the developed ideas.

After its capital fund campaign, titled “A Time to Build Up,” Winnetka Presbyterian planned a phased building. “The response to the capital campaign is nothing short of fantastic,” said Greene at the time. “It appears we will exceed our very aggressive goal and build all of phase one as scheduled.”

“ ‘A Time to Build Up’ is not about bricks and mortar,” stated Jack Chapin, who, along with Dee Nahigian, directed the capital fund campaign. “It is all about people. It is about equipping the people of God to serve here on the North Shore, or wherever our mission and ministry might take us.”

In order to implement the Strategic Mission and Ministry Plan in the 2000s, the church expanded programs and additional facilities. “It is a very exciting time in our church history,” said Greene. “The energy and response from members and friends is unequaled in my 20 years of ministry.”

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