1974 First immigrant gathering at 3030 Courtland Ave, Chicago
The International Christian Assembly emerged as Chicago’s pioneer Malayalam-English bilingual congregation through the founding ministry of Kanjappally Abraham Thomas, a visionary minister to the early diasporic Indians of the Windy City. Whereas tens of thousands of Indian immigrants and scores of Asian worship houses thrive in Chicagoland today, ICAG’s inaugural core in the 1970’s had only a lowly total of 21 persons led by Pastor Thomas.
Pastor Thomas’s dedication and service poised the church in a growth mode that stayed on the ascent ever since. Assisting Pastor Thomas were his own father Pastor A C John (Kuttappan Upadeshi). This trio turned ICAG into the much needed “go to” place for seekers of a new worship site from which, as few could have imagined, eventually many ministers and congregations have risen.
Starting out at the Ravenswood YMCA, the fellowship moved on to a Czechoslovakian church building at 3030 W Courtland, where after a short lease period, Mr. Milan Huba, the landlord, was inspired to donate the worship facility to ICAG. Mr. Huba’s property gift gave the church a stable operational base with encouraging growth. With an expanding membership, the church moved once again, this time to ICAG’s present location at 9628 W Irving Park Rd in 1990. The faithful stewardship of lay leaders such as T C Chacko, Thomas Eapen, Titus Mathew, Kunju Abraham, Maducolil M Abraham, Abraham Kuruvilla, Abraham Thomas and Jain Varghese gave the church many years of stability and growth.
Pr. K. A. Thomas
Pr. George K Stephenson
Pastor Thomas who has the Apostolic gift to found new congregations moved to Houston, Texas in 1978, handing over the ICAG pastorate to his young associate, Pastor George K Stephenson who had freshly arrived from India at that time. With a great heart for people and a burning passion for life in the divine Word, Stephenson reached out to the wider Chicago community through house visits and community platforms. A radio broadcast begun in the 1980’s and a television program begun in 1990 expanded Stephenson’s ministry. It was Mr. Abraham Kuruvilla who saw the great service opportunity through the broadcasts, which produced gratifying outcomes.
1989 ICAG Church at 9628 W. Irving Park Road, Schiller Park, IL
1996 church congregation
Rev. Stephenson presenting a check for the September 11, 2001 victims
By its profile and ministry scope, ICAG today is literally international. It strives to serve the wider world, rather than the mere home grounds. The church runs a vibrant Sunday school, youth church, mission trips, summer programs, and visitation events, all of which in turn inspire other ongoing mission ventures. Several members of ICAG run independent overseas ministries of their own in which the whole congregation also participates actively.