We believe the Bible is the inspired Word of God and the only infallible guide and rule of our faith and practice.
(Psalm 119:89; Matthew 24:35; 2 Timothy 2:15, 3:16-17; 2 Peter 1:19-21.)
The History of
Church of The Open Bible
The Church of the Open Bible had its start when Reverend Ralph Petters came to Streator in 1950. He held the first meetings at the YMCA until securing the property at 404 Powell Street. Reverend Petters held services in a tent at the new site, until, with the help of the parishioners, the building and entryway were built. Petters moved to Ottawa in 1953.
Reverend La Verne Hill from Atlantic Iowa succeeded Petters as Pastor. Under Reverend Hill’s leadership, the church continued to grow until he left in 1957. Reverend Hill was responsible for the acquisition of the parsonage on Coal Street.
Under the leadership of Reverend Edward Bender, the church continued to grow with the Sunday School annex constructed adjoining the sanctuary. During the years Reverend Bender was pastor, the old Coal Street parsonage was sold and a new one was built at 1013 Livingston Street. After five years in Streator, Reverend Bender took a pastorship in Florida.
Reverend Robert Martin followed Bender in the Streator parish for one year until he returned to evangelistic duties for the Church of the Open Bible.
September 1962 saw the arrival of Reverend David B. Grant as pastor. He carried these duties out for 22 months. In the less than two years that he was in Streator, the church acquired new furniture for the sanctuary ad built a new tile-covered concrete floor in the auditorium. Before going to Galesburg, he also saw the painting of the church building exterior.
Reverend V.G. Rounds assumed the pastoral duties in July 1964. During his tenure, the church and Sunday School structures were remodeled with the addition of a hot water heating system. The Board Members of the church at this time were Woodrow Burkett, Ralph Watts, Paul Graves, Louis Pannell, Carl Korte, Don Leonard and Betty Raub. Betty Raub was the Sunday School Superintendent and Church Secretary. Carl Korte was the Sunday School Director and Mary Cooley served as the church treasurer.
Following Reverend Rounds was Reverend Gene Tyler, who served for 8 years.
Reverend Gerald and his wife Barb then served for 2 years. These 2 years of ministry were very rough going for the couple.
In the absence of Reverend Gerald and his wife Barb, Reverend Gene Tyler served for another 8 years. Reverend Tyler was a truck driver, who led the church on the side.
In 1986, Reverend Bill Neibuhr and his wife Peggy came to Open Bible Church. Upon their arrival at the church, they found that the facility was in shambles, there were very few members and there was only about $200 in the bank account. In fact, the first missionary family that came to the church (Tom and Sherry Moore and their boys) returned the love offering that they were blessed with back to the church and told Pastor Neibuhr that the church “needed it more than they did.” The church did not have board members or a worship team at that time, but there were a few Sunday School teachers and a bus that would pick children up every Sunday. In the words of Reverend Neibuhr, “It was truly a restart.” However, the Lord spoke clearly to them that they were to take the church. The word that God gave them in the beginning, which reigned true through their entire time of ministry at Open Bible was, “As you press on and work, You will see My Hand move and deliver this church from fruitlessness to fruitfulness and to be as a light house.” Reverend Bill Neibuhr pastored at Open Bible until the year 2015. In that time, he saw many milestones hit.
Outreach was started by going door to door taking a community/church survey. They asked people what they thought were the main needs for Streator and if they were a member at a local church. In this way, they led people to the Lord and brought some key people into the church that began helping with the youth ministry, bus driving, worship team, etc. Of these people some of their family and friends then began attending the church. They learned the needs of the community and did a major renovation on the building to help attract new people.
A monthly men’s group was started. Some of the members met weekly. Out of this group, a board of Elders was developed. These members included David Ostring, Ron Piszscor, Ed Entwhistle, Gus Morgan, Bob Horton, Dale Ralston, and Joel Meyers. These men and their wives were instrumental in growing the church from 10 people in 1986 to 150 people in 1991/1992. They developed a strong youth ministry, started giving to World Evangelism, had on-going evangelism and discipleship, developed church fellowship and care, and began being a blessing to the community.
Pastor Bill became involved with the Streator Ministerial Association. From those contacts, a weekly prayer meeting was started, which lasted over 20 years. From those united prayers, people were saved, forces of hell were thwarted and churches were strengthened in the community. One example was when they brought Evangelist Dave Roever to Streator. He and his son gave talks a high school assembly and then spoke at an evening meeting at the high school. The gym was packed and over 400 people came forward for the alter call. The whole cafeteria was filled with people receiving prayer and counsel in Christ. One of the young men saved that night eventually became the pastor of the First Assembly of god Church in Streator. Open Bible got involved n the youth ministry through the local YMCA serving and reaching out on Friday nights. After a Christian band ministered, they were able to help a couple hundred young people either come to Jesus or rededicate their lives to him.
The Toronto Blessing in 1995 was both a blessing and a challenge. For many, it deepened their knowledge and love of the Lord. For others, it was something foolish, devilish or unnecessary. As a District Leader and serving on a Regional Board with Open Bible, Pastor Bill was able to help host District meetings with Toronto itinerate speakers at Open Bible. These meetings ministered to many from Open Bible Churches, other churches and the general public who were interested.
They started the Straight Road to Recovery Group and became involved with the Streator Substance Abuse Coalition. Through these community involvements, they were able to share Christ’s love with many in the Streator community.
In 2015, Reverend Rodney Kreier stepped in as Interim Senior Pastor to Church of the Open Bible. At this time, the church attendance was back down to 12 people. The church had very low finances and the building was in need of updating and repairs. The denomination was looking for a permanent Pastor, but they were without much success as there was little available to pay a Pastor. Eventually, the congregation reached out to Reverend Kreier and asked him to stay on with the church. Initially, Pastor Rodney was not interested in staying full-time, but the Lord called him to stay with Church of the Open Bible in a dream. Rodney followed the call to ministry with the church.
In the beginning of his time at Church of the Open Bible, Rodney implemented a leadership team consisting of Elder Robert Horton and Elder Joel Meyers, their wives and several other members. This team began planning holiday outreaches, the first of which was on Christmas. A key component of the Christmas outreach were cardboard testimonies. The next was on Easter. These outreaches helped to reach new people in the community and the congregation began slowly growing.
In late 2016, Church of the Open Bible was miraculously left a partial estate with a sizeable amount of money and a house. The donor was completely unconnected to the church. Through this estate, the church was then able to make some general updates that included but was not limited to taking out the old pews, purchasing 150 chairs for the Worship Center and updates to the sound and video systems. With the new set up, the church now had more versatility. By this time through outreach and word of mouth, the congregation had grown from 12 people to roughly 50 people in regular attendance. Seeing the growth, it became evident that more space would soon be needed.
Not long after, Open Bible purchased 408 Powell St., which gave the church a facility for the children. Thus, it was named the Children’s House. Around the same time, Billie Dimmig was hired as Ministry Assistant fulfilling the need for organization within the office and help within other ministries. With the hire of another staff member, the church office was then relocated to 1013 E. Livingston St., which the church already owned as a parsonage. As the church continued to grow, the home next door to the New Church Office went up for sale. This home, 1009 E. Livingston St., was purchased to be repaired and one day house youth ministries.
Shortly after purchasing this new house in 2018, the church became aware that the old Oakland Park School was up for sale. With much prayer and deliberation, the decision was made to step out in faith and make a bid on the school. This decision was made knowing that Open Bible had just bought several houses in an effort to expand the church space; however, the purchase of the school would allow all ministries within the church to be located under one roof. It also allowed for future growth of the church and the ability to house other ministries. Church of the Open Bible closed on Oakland Park School in mid-September 2018 and relocated the Celebration Service to the new building in December 2018.
Since this purchase, the building has been renamed Oakland Park Commons. Church of the Open Bible owns and operates from Oakland Park Commons and has been working on updating the building for the use of the church and other ministries. For this reason, Steven and Susan Westerhold were hired in early 2019 as Custodians. Currently, the church is in the process of installing an AC Unit to the Worship Center/Gym and constructing a shed for yard tools in back. At this time, Oakland Park Commons also houses, the Tri-County Heads Start/Early Head Start Program, Kaleidoscope, Dare to Care, Dusty Roads Foundation, I am Azaria (Donation Based Counseling Services by Pamela Haug) and Captain’s Quarters (Donation Based Barbershop by Dennis Haug).