Remembering our history

Lydia's EFCA Roots

An initiative of the Ladies Aid Society in Chicago has been providing care for children for over 100 years.

In 1913, the women of the Ladies Aid Society of Salem Evangelical Free Church in Chicago took on a new project to mend and sew clothing for needy children in local orphanages. Salem was part of the Norwegian Free Church association and its pastor, Dr. C.T. Dyrness, had a great heart of compassion for the needy children in their area of the city. By 1917, because the sheer numbers of orphans exceeded the capacity of the local facilities, the Lydia Children’s Home Association was founded.

Black and white image of a building with a line of people standing outside
The original Lydia Home

Soon, the house was too small for the growing numbers of children in need. By 1920, the group was able to purchase and remodel a former country club where the home remains today, still serving needy children and families. 

Though now run by an independent board, it remains affiliated with the Great Lakes District, while working with many other churches. In recent years, the ministry has grown with affiliates in France and Romania, as well as with “Safe Homes for Children” in over 100 cities across the U.S., providing temporary care in Christian families for children whose parents are unable to care for them for a time. Lydia also has a pre-school and a counseling center along with other ministries.

Lydia is another example of the outreach of compassion shown by our EFCA churches, a ministry now expanded far beyond just the EFCA.

Tom Cairns

Tom Cairns is the archivist for the EFCA. A physician who worked for 19 years in Congo, Tom later served as director of international ministries for the EFCA mission, now known as ReachGlobal. Since retirement, Tom enjoys sharing stories about the history of the EFCA, answering questions from our churches and helping the churches with their own stories. He also uploads our historical books, photos and documents to our archive website. Tom’s great desire is to bring glory to God as we celebrate the history we have in the EFCA.

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