|In April 1948, the Lord blessed Rev. Booker Tellafero Little with a vision for a church in the
North Lawndale Community on Chicago's west side. Rev. Little and eight other people of
faith: Carrie Clark, Bessie Gordon, Jeanette Lamar, Idell Little, Alex Mayfield, Marie
Mayfield, Ora Mullins and Theodore Garrison organized the Open Door Missionary Baptist
I n May 1948, the first worship service was held at the George Howland School. Weekly
church services were held every Sunday thereafter until January, 1949 when
circumstances made it necessary to move. Rev. Little was not deterred, he and his wife
offered their home to continue the worship services. Rev. Little and the congregation
knowing the Lord would provide, continued to work and pray until the Lord blessed them
with a new church home. On the 4th Sunday in July, 1949, the Open Door Church
membership marched into their new church home at 1539 S. Christiana.
The church progressed spiritually and bountifully, adding new members, working
steadfastly and holding on to their faith. In 1952 the membership was blessed to pay off
their mortgage. With the continuous blessings of new members, it soon became necessary
to seek a larger place of worship.
Again, the congregation petitioned the throne of God and on Sunday, November 21, 1954
we marched into 1301 S. Sawyer Avenue and renamed the church the Greater Open Door
Missionary Baptist Church.
Under the pastorate of Rev. Little, the Lord blessed us to do great things! Rev. Little's
service to our congregation was insurmountable until his health began to fail in the early
1980's. Due to health concerns, Rev. Little relocated to Arizona. During his illness, the
Reverend William Arthur Lamar, Associate Minister and a dedicated member of Greater
Open Door for over 30 years took the reigns. Rev. Lamar stood steadfastly and preached
the Gospel weekly at Greater Open Door Missionary Baptist Church year after year during
Rev. Little's absence from the pulpit. However, on September 10,1982, after decades of
"being on the battlefield", God called his "good and faithful servant", Rev. William Lamar
home to rest in His bosom.
Recognizing the increased need for some pastoral assistance during Pastor Little's health
concerns, on Sunday, October, 24, 1982 after much prayer and consideration, Rev.
Richard Nelson from the Garden of Prayer Baptist Church in Maywood IL was charged with
the task of Administrative Assistant. During this interim period, Rev. Nelson provided
stable leadership, comfort and much prayer. The church continued to progress,
renovating the church facilities and renewing our spiritual commitment.
On Thursday, April, 13, 1984, our organizing pastor, Rev. Booker T. Little was called from
labor to reward, leaving behind a legacy of "quality leadership and good works."
On June, 18, 1984, Rev. Richard Nelson accepted the pastorate of Greater Open Door
Missionary Baptist Church. The scripture says in Proverbs 29:18,"Where there is no
vision, the people perish..." We thank God for a visionary leader". Under his leadership
and through the guidance of the Holy Spirit the Lord has continued to bless us as a
church congregation. From 1984 and beyond the church has grown tremendously. We
have celebrated spiritual empowerment, financial advancements, property acquisitions,
established a Junior Church, developed an active youth ministry, expanded our Ministry of
Deacons and assignments.
In Spring, 1998, our congregation broke ground for the construction of a new community
center to be named after our organizing Pastor. The Reverend Booker Tellafero (B.T.)
Little Community Center opened its doors in March 2000, leading the way for a church to
be erected within future years. During the interim, in April 2004, we secured the property
located at 1302 S. Sawyer to house the Administrative Offices of our church. From May,
2006 to May, 2008, our church services were conducted in the community center.
July 19, 2006 was a historical moment in the life of our church as we witnessed the
demolition of the building where we had worshiped, fellowshipped, celebrated and
triumphed in victories, and shared together in disappointments. It was the place for
memories of baptisms, christenings, weddings and eulogizing our loved ones. The place
where for the past 54 years we received counsel, prayer and listened attentively as our
organizing pastor and present pastor rightly divided the word of truth. Our last service in
the old church was on May 7. 2006.
On Saturday, May 24, 2008, history was unveiled once again when after much prayer,
sacrifice and commitment to building a new church, the Lord blessed us to host a "ribbon
cutting" and then march into our newly erected church edifice.
What a blessing it was to have our Pastor and two of our founding members Sister Carrie
Clark and Sister Jeanette Lamar leading the way as we marched from the Rev. B.T. Little
Community Center into our new church home. What a Mighty God we Serve!
Bishop Claude E. Tears of the First Corinthians Baptist Church delivered the first sermon
from the pulpit of the newly erected Greater Open Door Baptist Church, as members of
the congregation, visitors and friends completely filled the sanctuary to praise and give
thanks to God for the great things He hath done! On Sunday, May 25, 2008, at 8 o clock
a.m. Pastor Clarence Ray Kelley of Wounded Healers Church Baptist was our guest and
the Rev. Willie Williams of Zion Temple Church of Christ was the guest for the 10:50
worship. Our day ended with the Bishop J. L. Petties of the Family Alter Evangelistic
Church at the 4 o clock service. So we hosted our first Sunday services in our new church,
with three powerful speakers for this great celebration. To God be the Glory for the great
things he has done!
We praise God for the privilege of being able to remain faithful to His way, His will and to
His Word. Be thou faithful until death and I will give thee a crown of life...