Edgeville Buzz

Andersonville’s Iconic ‘Jesus Saves’ Sign In Need Of Urgent Repair, Funding Campaign Could Help

Another iconic symbol of the Andersonville neighborhood is in need of necessary repairs. With the inevitable return of the Swedish flag-painted water tower, the well-known ‘Jesus Saves’ sign is becoming the next local landmark to be saved.

The Philadelphia Church at 5437 N Clark St. erected the sign in 1940 when it took over a shuttered great depression-era bank. The brainchild of Kenneth Benson, a Philadelphia Church member and a funeral director, the sign has hung proudly ever since. 

According to Rev. John Pickett, Assistant Pastor and Elder at the Philadelphia Church, even though it was operating as a church, there was nothing to distinguish the facade from its former purpose.  So Benson thought of a grand sign highlighting the name of the church and boldly proclaiming “Jesus Saves” so that people would know exactly what the group of people of predominantly Swedish background was all about.  They even had a church and community supported fund raiser for the construction and installation of the sign.

Now that community support is needed once again. With a smaller congregation now, it is difficult to raise the funds to keep the popular sign lit up on the strip. So the church has started a GoFundMe.com campaign in hopes to solve the problem. The church is requesting $16,000 in support.

Campaign funding will go directly to help repair the sign with new wiring, hole patching, neon repair, painting, and replacing all of the bulbs with long-lasting and energy efficient LED bulbs.  It will also go towards the installation of a high-efficiency air conditioning/heating unit on the roof of the church’s office annex.  The current unit has been there for about 40 years and is no longer operational.

“Personally, I like the sign because the message does not equivocate.  We believe that Jesus really does save us – from our sinfulness and shortcomings as flawed people, from our worldly cares, and from our own bad decisions,” said Rev. Pickett.  “We believe that faith in Jesus is the key to everything, both for eternity and for a more peaceful and loving life here on earth.  This is a place where introductions can be made.  So, in that sense, the message of the sign hasn’t changed from when it was first installed.”

Philadelphia Church began as a ministry of the Philadelphia Church of Stockholm, Sweden in 1926. The name derives from the Biblical reference to the church at Philadelphia in Asia Minor (now Turkey) found in Revelation Chapter 3. Originally started as a storefront ministry, the church found their forever home on Clark. Until the 1960s, mass was held in Swedish until a decision was made to become English-spoken to reflect the changing Andersonville neighborhood.

“Andersonville is a wonderfully diverse community with representation from all over the planet.  So it is with the Philadelphia Church.  We are a family of European Americans, African Americans, Latin Americans, and Asian Americans,” added Rev Pickett who has served the Andersonville Philadelphia Church since 1983. “We love one another, we are there for one another, we care for one another, and we want to share that love with others.  It is our hope and dream that the Philadelphia Church will grow and continue to share God’s love with Andersonville, the City of Chicago, and around the world.”

To donate to the fund, Click Here.


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