Published Feb. 14, 2013
Hinsdale Fil-Am Church reaches milestone
Congregation marks 30 years in the village, ministering to Filipino-American community
By Ken Knutson
Before Hinsdale Fil-Am Seventh-day Adventist Church opened its doors 30 years ago, the congregation met in an office building up on Salt Creek Lane near Ogden Avenue.
Grace Consignado, one of the original members, remembers the daunting task of raising $130,000 to purchase the vacant parcel at 9 E. 59th St. on which the church now stands.
“That seemed like a Goliath to us,” she said. “We thought we could not afford it.”
But she and her fellow faithful sold chocolates and conducted other fundraising efforts to realize their vision of a house of worship serving the unique needs of the Filipino-American community in the Chicago area.
The woman who owned the targeted land had received wonderful care at Hinsdale Hospital, where Consignado worked as a nurse along with several other church members. One day she asked the church how much money they’d raised.
They had $60,000.
“‘OK, that’s all you pay me. Maybe God wants me to pay you back,’” Consignado recounted her saying.
“We strongly believe that God made this happen.”
The church will celebrate its 30th anniversary the weekend of March 22-23.
Pastor Ramon Baldovino said surrender to God’s grace is at the center of their doctrine, which holds Jesus Christ as the world’s redeemer as well as its creator.
The Seventh-day Adventist denomination celebrates that creation with a 24-hour Sabbath from sunset Friday to sunset Saturday.
“As a result of our salvation, we are to live a life of holiness. And part of that is keeping all the commandments of God,” he said, citing the Fourth Commandment about keeping the Sabbath.
The church begins its weekly worship with a vespers service Friday night and continues Saturday from morning to late afternoon with a potluck lunch in between.
Baldovino came from his native Philippines in 2007 to pastor the Hinsdale congregation.
“They imported me,” he said with a laugh.
He said their ethnically-focused fellowship helps preserve the distinct music, language and relational aspects of Filipino culture.
“We would not be able to hand down our cultural heritage to the new generation” if mixed in with a church that is predominantly Caucasian or other race, Baldovino said.
Services are in English, but a special weekly Gintong Buklod (Golden Cord) program for seniors is conducted in Tagalog.
The church’s Rondalla youth music group performs traditional Filipino songs on stringed instruments including the banduria and octavina.
“They get invited to Navy Pier for celebrations and other churches and nursing homes in order to do music ministry,” Baldovino said.
After three decades, the congregation is beginning to outgrow the building. The 50-space parking lot is no longer able to fully accommodate the weekly attendance, Baldovino said.
“That’s why some of the neighbors are really complaining that we have a lot of cars parked here on Saturdays,” he said.
The church is now considering whether to relocate or establish “daughter” churches closer to Bolingbrook/Romeoville area, where many of the members live.
Associate Pastor Trevor Smith joined the staff two years ago and oversees the youth group every Saturday afternoon.
“The kids are completely in charge of it. That’s where they get their training,” he said.
Consignado said she is gratified to see the church thriving after 30 years.
“It’s a nice feeling,” she said.
Consignado, who is now president of the Midwest Association of Filipino-American Seventh-day Adventists, said she hopes the young generation does not lose sight of the sacrifices their elders made to build the church and then pay off the mortgage in six years.
“We really dig into our pockets until it hurts,” she said. “Eventually our children have to have the feeling of ownership in the church.”
Baldovino acknowledged that among some Christian sects, the church’s emphasis on the Sabbath smacks of legalism or a cult.
But he said it’s simply a way of honoring God and drawing on His strength.
“There is spiritual refreshing on the weekend so that you can be ready for the challenges of the following week,” Baldovino said.
He said their belief that Jesus Christ’s second coming is imminent gives urgency to their mission.
“We must prepare everybody for the soon coming of the glorious king Jesus Christ,” he said.
Affiliation: Seventh-day Adventist
Founded: founding members began gathering in 1979, church building opened in 1983
Lead pastor: Ramon Baldovino
Worship: held on Saturday — 9:30 a.m. Sabbath School, 10:50 a.m. worship, 2 p.m. Tagalog program for seniors, 3:33 p.m. youth group
Average attendance: 280-320
Location: 9 E. 59th St.
Theology: using the acronym FILAM — Fellowship as a body of believers in Christ; Instruct Biblical truth to bring body, mind and spirit in unison; Love Christ and the community by keeping his commandments; Adore God by observing the Sabbath; and Minister with the gifts of the Holy Spirit while earnestly longing for Christ’s second coming.