In 1986, Oxford Bible Fellowship (OBF) hired Gary Taylor to serve as their church-planting pastor to help them plant a "like-minded church in another college town." OBF has ministered to students at Miami University in Ohio since its planting. Led by Gary, a core group of approximately 12 met for a year and then incorporated as Evanston Bible Fellowship (EBF) in May 1987. That summer, shared leadership was assumed by four men for the 1987-88 year: two graduate students at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School (TEDS), a Northwestern professor (Tom Mason, who remains a current EBF member), and the director for Cru at Northwestern.
EBF's first public worship service was held at Orrington School in September 1987 with 35 in attendance, including representaives from OBF and the Evangelical Free Church of America (EFCA). Leaders from EBF wanted their church to include expository preaching rooted in God's Word and contemporary, participatory worship.
In the summer of 1988, TEDS student Martin McCorkle became the pastor of EBF. Soon after, EBF adopted its constitution that emphasized congregational decision-making and elder leadership. The constitution also formalized EBF's relationship with the EFCA.
Being a mobile church has always been a part of EBF's roots. From the beginning EBF held many services at many area venues, including churches, schools, and even a dance hall. In 1997 the church renovated and moved into the basement of the old Marshall Field's building at 1702 Sherman in downtown Evanston, where services would continue for 10 years.
Pastor Martin McCorkle, after 13 years of leadership at EBF, moved to California in 2001. Ben Gildner took the pastor position for the next two years. Pastor Ben had previousy been an EBF member and intern before becoming a pastor in Minnesota. It was during Ben's leadership that the elders added the office of deacon to meet the needs of the growing congregation so the elders could better focus their attention on prayer and the ministry of the Word, as mentioned in Acts 6.
Ben resigned in 2003 for health reasons. Pastor Jason Lancaster took the lead pastor position in 2004. Jason and his family moved from Santa Monica , California, where Jason had served as a pastor. In 2006, the church also added Pastor Jon Bechtle to the staff as the executive pastor. Jon had previously been the dean of students at Crown College in St. Bonifacius, Minnesota. Pastor Jason resigned in mid 2018 to pursue ministry in Arkansas. We are in final stages of hiring a new lead pastor.
In 2007, EBF relocated from 1702 Sherman and began holding services at the Century movie theater. At that time the church office moved to 611 South Boulevard, its current location. In August 2009, EBF moved again, this time to our current location in Nichols Concert Hall, at the corner of Grove and Chicago.
During this time, EBF began planting churches. Our vision has been to continue to plant churches near college campuses. To date, EBF has helped launched three churches, with a fourth in the works: one in St. Paul, Minnesota, another in the Rogers Park neighborhood of Chicago, and the third in Gainesville, Florida. The fourth EBF church plant will also be in the city of Chicago.