The history of Living Word Christian Center dates back to 1988 when Drs. Bill and Veronica Winston conducted small evangelistic meetings at the Quality Inn, a hotel located just west of downtown Chicago. Still living in Minnesota, they traveled to Chicago on weekends to hold two-day “Faith Crusades.” Sometimes the crowds averaged less than 20 people. Pastor would teach the Word of God, and Sister Veronica would play the guitar for praise and worship. It was not long before the Lord spoke to Pastor Winston to leave Minnesota and move his young family to Chicago permanently. He obeyed, and with only $200 — but filled with the Word of God — they moved to Chicago in the fall of 1988.
Pastor Winston’s original vision in moving to Chicago was to start a Bible training school. However, as God directed his steps, he was led to start a church and founded Living Word Church of Chicago in 1989. With less than 50 members, the church began meeting in a humble store front located in one of the highest crime rate neighborhoods on Chicago’s West Side, at the corner of Lake and Pulaski streets. After about a year, Pastor sought the Lord about moving the church to a nicer facility, and, a short time later, one of the church members identified a vacant office building that could be used for worship services in the nearby suburb of Forest Park. The new site was located at 7306 West Madison Street, used today for some of the ministry’s administrative offices. With this move in 1990, the ministry changed its name to Living Word Christian Center.
But the church move was not without its challenges. After signing the lease, more than half the membership decided not to make the move to Forest Park. With a large monthly lease and only a handful of members, God reminded Pastor Winston that He was Pastor’s source, not people. Pastor Winston turned his eyes back on God and faithfully confessed God’s Word for increase and growth. New members steadily came each year, and the church’s growth soon led to the need for a still larger worship center.
From 1994 through 1997, the church rented space for services at the Chez Roue Banquet Hall not far from Madison Street. Then, in spite of resistance from local officials, the ministry purchased the Forest Park Mall, a 33-acre shopping mall that had been in decline for several years. The church, now numbering almost 5,000 members, held its first worship services at the mall in a vacant hardware and home improvement store on New Year’s Eve 1997.
Today, Living Word Christian Center has almost 19,000 members and holds its services in a multimillion dollar, state-of-the-art worship center that once was a multi-theatre movie complex. Because of its unique design, the auditorium has won an industry award for architectural design.