Bro. Samuel L. Jordan, Evangelist
Bro. SAMUEL L. JORDAN, our 2nd Minister, was born in Lucy, Tennessee on February 19, 1927. Under Bro. Jordan’s ministerial leadership, after the death of Bro. Kennedy, the Michigan Avenue congregation took a giant step in July 1971 and purchased the 11325 S. Halsted building where we presently worship at a cost of $176,389. In order to guarantee the money required for a loan, 124 members willingly committed $406, 557 which was much more than the amount needed. The move to the Sheldon Heights community, afforded the congregation additional opportunities to expand, experience spiritual and numerical growth, serve others, and to proclaim the gospel of Christ to more souls.
The success of Sheldon Heights Church of Christ, from 1970-1995, can be attributed to many individuals, but especially to the guidance and influence of Bro. Samuel Jordan. During the early 70’s, Bro. Moses Hall and Bro. Reuben Sansom were installed as elders. Bro. Joseph Carroll and Bro. James Hunter were installed as deacons. Then, in1976, Bro. Leon Gilbert was added as a deacon
Bro. Jordan, along with his wife, Sis. Ruth Jordan, believed in being an active church. Their love, dedication, and service were constantly demonstrated as they led their daughters and church members in various opportunities to serve. Some of those included a community outreach food pantry program, senior citizens program, youth development ministry, sick visitation teams, zone program, benevolence programs, annual picnics, youth and adult choruses, tutoring programs, ladies days and retreats, Thursday morning Bible Class, prison
ministry, men training classes, “The Way of Truth” radio program, and ”Let The Bible Speak” television program. Bro. Jordan also served as one of the advisors of the Midwest Youth Conference (formerly the Tri-State Youth Conference), and he always accompanied the congregation’s youth to the annual meetings. In addition, sometimes when the adult chorus traveled out-of-town, Bro. and Sis. Jordan usually accompanied them.
Education was an important component at Sheldon Heights just as it was at Michigan Avenue. To assist members in their spiritual growth as they studied to show themselves approved, classes were scheduled for all ages on Sunday morning and midweek on Wednesday night and Thursday morning. He recognized the need to better prepare and equip teachers in order to have a more effective Bible School. Therefore, on December 3, 1977, the 1st annual Tri-State Teachers’ Workshop took place under the direction of Bro. Jordan. That was the beginning of what is now the National Teachers’ Workshop under the direction of Bro. Leonardo Gilbert.
Over the years, Bro. Samuel Jordan was assisted in accomplishing the goals set for Sheldon Heights by his Assistant Minister, Bro. Lemmie Nichols, who was also a Sunday School teacher and Sunday School superintendent, by many other faithful and dedicated men in leadership positions, and by his “sons in the gospel.” Bro. Jordan served as a great influence, a mentor, and “spiritual father” to the following young ministers who often referred to him as “Pops”: Bro. David C. Penn, youth minister, Bro. Charles L. Smith, ministerial student intern from Southwestern Christian College, Bro. Leonardo D. Gilbert, youth minister, educational director, and evangelism minister, and Bro. Eddie Taylor, ministerial student, among others.
During his 25 years of preaching and teaching that “God is the God of a second chance,” and leading souls to Christ at Sheldon Heights, Brother Jordan often remarked that “God truly blessed the Sheldon Heights congregation both physically and spiritually—many blessings were showered on us.” Some of those blessings included the addition of many newly baptized and restored members, an average membership of 400, an average Sunday worship attendance of 375, and generous weekly contributions. Bro. Jordan was an hospitable, genuine, and fun-loving person. He often told humorous stories as he preached or entertained members in his home. He once said that “it is not a sin to enjoy life to its fullest. After all, the Bible says God loves a cheerful giver. And I don’t just mean money either.” The humble spirits of both Brother and Sister Jordan endeared them to the members of the congregation and community.
In the areas of spiritual education, missionary, and evangelism work, Bro. Jordan led the congregation in its deep commitment to the support of Bro. A. A. Walker and the church in Kingston, Jamaica. He was one of the original Crusade for Christ organizers, and he worked diligently on behalf of Southwestern Christian College. Each year in November, Bro. Jordan stepped into the SwCC cafeteria kitchen and assisted with cooking meals during the Lectureship. Additionally, he was a workshop speaker, and advisor to the Levi Kennedy Memorial Scholarship Foundation, the National Dinner Day, the Chicago United Class, and the Chicago Campaign for Christ. Bro. Jordan willingly shared his experiences, knowledge, and skills to help others.
In addition to leading an active congregation, Bro. Jordan was a participant in many community organizations such as Roseland Mental Health Clinic. Fenger High School, the Department of Human Resources, Jewel/Osco, Beverly Bank. and Chicago Roseland Coalition for Community Control. Those associations led to community exposure for the church, numerous benefits for church members, and opportunities for Bro. Jordan to counsel students and juvenile delinquents.
Many years ago, Bro. Jordan made the following three predictions: (1) Sheldon Heights has not reached all of its goals yet, (2) the church will encounter opposition along the way, but (3) it will continue to press forward”. And press forward it did. Thank God for the vision of Bro. Jordan. “Where there is no vision, the people perish; but he that keeps the law, happy is he.” (Proverbs 29:18). Because of our late minister’s vision for the future of Sheldon Heights, the congregation has continued to set goals for growth and development. Toward that end, properties have been acquired, along Halsted Street, (honorably named Evangelist Samuel L. Jordan St.) on which to build.
From 1971 to 1995, Bro. Samuel Jordan dedicated his time and energy to the growth and stability of the Sheldon Heights congregation. Following in the footsteps of his mentor, Bro. Kennedy, he had no problem “rolling up his sleeves, getting his hands dirty, and leading the congregation where it needed to go.” Until his death, Brother Jordan’s influence, guidance, untiring work, and unselfish spirit blessed the congregation to reach for greater heights in its work for the Lord.
On January 2, 1995, God called Bro. Samuel Jordan to his eternal rest after a brief illness. The mantle of Sheldon Heights’ ministerial leadership and family heirloom tapestry was then passed on to his “son in the gospel,” Bro. Leonardo Demetrius Gilbert.