'60s: Humble Beginnings

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1963 Ray Stewart (a recovered alcoholic) came from the Pacific Garden Mission in Chicago to establish a similar mission in Rockford.

1964 Ray rented a building at 116 Kishwaukee Street for $100 a month and opened the doors of the first mission in May.  The sign on the front door read, “All are welcome here. The alcoholic, the addict, the stranger, the sojourner, the pilgrim, the poor. There is hope for all who enter here.”

1965 At Ray’s recommendation, the Board appointed Ray’s pastor, Rev. G.O. Pitney with his wife, Nadine, as new director. The first newsletter is released, later called The Rescuer.

1967 All debts were paid off. Rev. Pitney appeals in The Rescuer, “Won’t you help us build a modern city rescue mission which any Christian would be proud of and upon which the world would look with greater respect?”

1969 Forty to fifty churches were supporting the Mission and The Rescuer circulation reached 2000.