Our History


Shekinah Chapel began as an after care program for young African American men…

In 1992, a group of African American men realized that there were no black leaders attempting to help young black men mature and learn skills to handle their feelings in a healthy constructive way. As a result, a camp was established for African American boys called SIMBA (Safe In My Brothers Arms). The camp started as a two-week rite of passage in the summer that was set as a mentoring program that instills: spirituality, centrality of community, harmony with nature, personal centeredness, reverence for ancestors and survival.

After SIMBA’s second year in operation, it was determined that the young men that came to SIMBA were not being reached by mainline churches in their community and, apart from SIMBA, had limited ability to continue the process of restoring themselves spiritually.

To address this need, the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America partnered with SIMBA to start an after care program that would meet on a regular basis to continue the mentoring process started at SIMBA camp. On June 17, 1995, the after care program, now called Shekinah Chapel, had its first service.

In the beginning, service was held on the 1st and 3rd Saturday of the month; but its popularity and ability to draw young people caused the services to be moved to every Sunday in 1998.

In 2006, Shekinah Chapel was still going strong under the leadership of its then Pastor, Yehiel Curry, whose vision and direction enabled Shekinah to continue to grow and thrive. What started as an after care program has blossomed and grown to become a full congregation that not only reaches Chicago’s youth, but ministers and teaches the gospel of Jesus Christ to both men and women of all nationalities regardless of religious background.

Through praise and worship, libations to honor those that have gone before us, poetry and the preached word, it all works together to usher in the Shekinah glory of God every Sunday.