To the casual onlooker, Revival Center Church looks unassuming enough: a well-manicured two-story brownstone perched on a busy intersection in the Auburn-Gresham community on Chicago’s Southside. Once home to a family owned funeral parlor—“Revival Center”—as it is most affectionately called, has a rich, deep history that stretches almost three generations.


Like many community churches in the U.S., Revival Center plays an important social role

in the area in which it is located, reaching out

spiritually to the community as well as offering social support programs such as tutoring and academic scholarships to its members.


Led by Senior Pastor Mildred L. Grant and Assistant Pastor Sammy W. Lacey, Jr., the roots of Revival Center Church go back more than half a century, when Reverend Grant’s uncle, Bishop Jesse Douglas Smith, D.D., founded the early Church in 1931 as The Church of God Mission Society.


Located then at 4400 South Saint Lawrence Avenue, the early Church had a revolutionary vision of worldwide Christian leadership, one in which parishioners would be trained—from an early age—to be civic leaders; an especially poignant vision given the grim realities of the day.


During the year the early Church was founded, the U.S. saw unemployment double as a far-reaching effect of the stock market crashing two years earlier.

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Church Archives

In 1931, the late Bishop Jesse Douglas Smith, D.D., and his brother the late Reverend Jason Thomas Smith founded the early Church on the simple premise of worldwide Christian leadership—changing ordinary people into extraordinary leaders of tomorrow.


Bishop Jesse Douglas Smith, D.D. (1897 - 1970)


On July 6, 1897, Jesse Douglas Smith, one of ten children, was born to John and Annie Smith of Pittsboro, Mississippi where at an early age he accepted Christ.


Bishop Smith was a faithful servant of God, receiving his late training at the Chicago Academy of Science and the University of Illinois. He was also considered by many to have the “spiritual gift of healing” and “one of the nation’s foremost Pentecostal ministers.” Read more.





The collections of Revival Center Church record the history of the Church from its beginning in 1931 to the present-day. The collections contain corporate charters, photos, records, board resolutions, and other Church documents. To view this growing body of information, click here.


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