Open Bible Fellowship (OBF) was founded in 1987 in the community of Morrison, Illinois in Whiteside County. This church has been a source of truth, light and life throughout the Gateway area of northwest Illinois and northeast Iowa for more than 25 years. Those who have called OBF home have come from multiple communities on both sides of the river, thus the motto, “Regional Church With a World Vision”.
The founding pastor, James Reed, was sent to the area from his home church in Oklahoma. During Reed’s three and one half years at OBF, he influenced hundreds of people for the gospel of Jesus Christ.
On January 1, 1991, Chris Byrd became the pastor of OBF. His primary gifts were used to stabilize, reorganize and chart the course of ministry for OBF. The heart of his ministry is that of making disciples, training leaders, and equipping servants of the Lord to do the work of ministry. World missions have been at the heart of this ministry from the outset. When Pastor Chris came to the area, one of his top priorities was to expand the level of economic support we invest in missions. In addition to economic support, he and other OBF members went to various parts of the world serving people in the name of the Lord. In 2018, Pastor Chris and Lori were called to be fulltime missionaries in Tanzania, Africa where they went to train church leaders.
On February 11, 2018, Pastor Stephen Harmon became the Lead Pastor at OBF. He started serving as a youth leader in 2001, becoming our fulltime Youth Pastor in 2002. Then in 2009, after hiring Ben Johnson as Youth Pastor, Pastor Steve became an Associate Pastor.
From its inception, the spiritual family known as OBF has been well served by several gifted pastoral leaders. These servant leaders have all added significantly to the rich spiritual heritage that has come forth from OBF. Senior Pastors include—James Reed, Chris Byrd and Stephen Harmon. Associate Pastors include—Mike Wiersema, Mike Harmon, Steve Harmon and Ben Johnson. When combined with lay leaders who have served as Elders and on the Board of Directors, OBF has had a long history of spiritual vitality and integrity.
The first church service was held at Norrish Auditorium on January 11, 1987 with 14 families. In 1988, the old Union Grove School was purchased to be the new home of OBF. A large addition was added in 2004 to offer additional office, nursery and classroom space. In addition, the property to the west of the church was purchased from Musel Ag for possible future growth. In 2011, OBF began a journey of planting a church in Davenport, Iowa. In 2013, the church became fully functional as an independent church.
At the heart of the ministry “staff” of Open Bible has always been the “lay leadership” team. Hundreds of individuals from every generation have served in a multitude of different volunteer capacities—making the ministry of the gospel available and meaningful to all who have called this local church home!