Marengo United Methodist Church HISTORY 1837 - 1997
Marengo United Methodist Church
We are a loving community of faith, offering compassionate fellowship, Bible-based teaching, Christ-centered worship and opportunities to serve, in order to equip people with a faith that works in real life.
Our Social Creed
We believe in God, Creator of the world; and in Jesus Christ the Redeemer of creation. We believe in the Holy Spirit, through whom we acknowledge God's gifts, and we repent of our sin in misusing these gifts to idolatrous ends. We affirm the natural world as God's handiwork and dedicate ourselves to its preservation, enhancement, and faithful use by humankind. We joyfully receive, for ourselves and others, the blessings of community, sexuality, marriage, and the family. We commit ourselves to the rights of men, women, children, youth, young adults, the aging, and those with handicapping conditions; to improvement of the quality of life; and to the rights and dignity of racial, ethnic, and religious minorities. We believe in the right and duty of persons to work for the glory of God and the good of themselves and others, and in the protection of their welfare in so doing; in the rights to property as a trust from God, collective bargaining, and responsible consumption; and in the elimination of economic and social distress. We dedicate ourselves to peace throughout the world, to the rule of justice and law among nations, and to individual freedom for all people of the world. We believe in the present and final triumph of God's Word in human affairs, and gladly accept our commission to manifest the life of the gospel in the world. Amen.
HISTORY OF THE METHODIST CHURCH Methodism, worldwide Protestant movement dating from 1729, when a group of students at the University of Oxford, England, began to assemble for worship, study, and Christian service. Their fellow students named them the Holy Club and "methodists," a derisive allusion to the methodical manner in which they performed the various practices that their sense of Christian duty and church ritual required. The Wesleys Among the Oxford group were John Wesley, considered the founder of Methodism, and his brother Charles, the sons of an Anglican rector. John preached, and Charles wrote hymns. Together they brought about a spiritual revolution, which some historians believe diverted England from political revolution in the late 18th century. The theology of the Wesleys leaned heavily on Arminianism and rejected the Calvinist emphasis on predestination. Preaching the doctrines of Christian perfection and personal salvation through faith, John Wesley quickly won an enthusiastic following among the English working classes, for whom the formalism of the established Church of England had little appeal. Opposition by the English clergy, however, prevented the Wesleys from speaking in parish churches; consequently, Methodist meetings were often conducted in open fields. Such meetings led to a revival of religious fervor throughout England, especially among the poor. John Wesley's message as well as his personal activities among the poor encouraged a social consciousness that was retained by his followers and has become a hallmark of the Methodist tradition. Methodist societies sprang up, and in 1744 the first conference of Methodist workers was held. Wesley never renounced his ties with the Church of England, but he provided for the incorporation and legal continuation of the new movement. Division and Reunification Soon after John Wesley's death in 1791, his followers began to divide into separate church bodies. During the 19th century many such separate Methodist denominations were formed in Great Britain and the United States, each maintaining its own version of the Wesleyan tradition. In 1881 an Ecumenical Methodist Conference was held to coordinate Methodist groups throughout the world. Conferences have been held at regular intervals since then. They are currently known as the World Methodist Conference, which meets every five years. The centennial gathering was convened in Honolulu in July 1981. Early in the 20th century in Great Britain, the separate Methodist bodies began to coalesce. The Bible Christians, the Methodist New Connexion, and the United Methodist Free Churches united in 1907 to form the United Methodist Church, which in 1932 joined with the Primitive Methodist and Wesleyan Methodist churches to bring the long chapter of Methodist disunity in Great Britain to an end. Today the Methodist Church in the United Kingdom has the distinction of being the "mother church" of world Methodism. Structure of British Methodism The governing body of the British Methodist Church is the Conference. All church courts and committees derive their authority from the Conference and are responsible to it for the exercise of their appropriate functions. Below the Conference administratively is a church court for each district, circuit, and society. Geographic districts number 34. Each district is divided into circuits, generally 30 to 40 in number. Each circuit is subdivided into local societies, the number varying considerably. Administration of the church is not only delegated to the lower courts but also to 13 connexional departments. The work of each department is carried on at the district, circuit, and society level by responsible committees. By this means the Conference maintains control over
the work of the various levels of the church. Communication is thus maintained between the Conference and all the members. The Conference also maintains missions around the world. Origins of Methodism in the U.S. Methodism was brought to the U.S. before the American Revolution by emigrants from both Ireland and England. The earliest societies were formed in about 1766 in New York City, in Philadelphia, and near Pipe Creek, Maryland. In 1769 John Wesley sent his first missionaries to America. Francis Asbury, commissioned in 1771, was the missionary most instrumental in establishing the American Methodist church. The first annual conference was held in Philadelphia in 1773. At the Christmas Conference held in Baltimore, Maryland, in 1784, the Methodist Episcopal Church was formally organized as a body separate from the English Methodist structure. Asbury and Thomas Coke were given the title bishop and became heads of the new church. Wesley sent Twenty-five Articles of Religion, adapted from the Thirty-nine Articles of the Church of England, to serve as its doctrinal basis. Methodism, spread by the circuit rider and the revival meeting, advanced westward with the frontier. During the early 19th century, the tolerant doctrinal positions of Methodism and its stress on personal religious experience, universal salvation, and practical ethics gave it a major role in religious awakening and attracted converts in large numbers. Organization and Sacraments Annual geographic conferences were organized throughout the U.S. in the early 19th century. A democratic form of government similar to the federal governmental system was adopted in the Methodist Episcopal Church, and it remains the basic structure of the United Methodist Church. A Council of Bishops was set up as the executive branch of the church, with a General Conference as the legislative branch. Later, a judicial council was established to serve as an ecclesiastical court. The bishops and the judicial council were to meet under the supervision of the General Conference. Within both British and American Methodism, two sacraments, baptism and the Lord's Supper are recognized. Baptism may be administered by immersion, pouring, or sprinkling. Methodists interpret the Lord's Supper as either a celebration of the presence of Christ, as taught by the French Protestant theologian John Calvin, or in a strictly memorial sense, as taught by the Swiss Protestant reformer Huldreich Zwingli.
Schisms In the U.S., as in Great Britain, division among Methodists came early. At the end of the 18th century, black members in Philadelphia withdrew from the church, where segregation had been forced upon them, and established an independent congregation. Soon church groups from other cities along the Atlantic seaboard joined with them to form the African Methodist Episcopal Church. In the second decade of the 19th century in New York City a similar movement developed independently; it attracted black congregations from other cities and became the African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church. Agitation against the power of the bishops and a desire for lay representation caused another split in 1830, resulting in the formation of the Methodist Protestant Church. Slavery became the most divisive issue in the history of Methodism. Radical abolitionist Methodists broke away from the Methodist Episcopal Church in the 1840s to form the Wesleyan Methodist Church, which in the 20th century merged with the Pilgrim Holiness Church to become the Wesleyan Church. In 1844 the largest schism in American Methodism occurred when the Methodist Episcopal Church, South, was formed by supporters of slavery after the General Conference became
deadlocked over the issue. In the 1860s the holiness controversy produced another schism, when a group of Methodist dissenters who believed in a reemphasis on Wesley's doctrine of personal holiness broke away to form the Free Methodist Church of North America. After the American Civil War, the two black Methodist denominations and the Methodist Episcopal Church tried to proselytize the black congregations within the Methodist Episcopal Church, South, which in response encouraged and authorized its black members to form the Colored Methodist Episcopal Church, now known as the Christian Methodist Episcopal Church. Mergers Each of these separate Methodist bodies formed denominational agencies to manage education, missions, evangelism, and publishing. Through their individual missionary programs, competing Methodist missions appeared around the world. It became apparent that some cooperation was essential, and each Methodist denomination joined one or more international missionary organizations in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. One of these was the Ecumenical Methodist Conference, which first met in 1881. The movement for unity did not succeed as completely in the U.S. as it did in Great Britain, where one Methodist church resulted. After much effort, three of the major Methodist bodies in the U.S., namely, the Methodist Episcopal Church, the Methodist Protestant Church, and the Methodist Episcopal Church, South, united in 1939 to form the Methodist Church. In 1946 two small denominations of German ethnic origin that were unaffiliated with Methodism but greatly influenced by it, the Evangelical Church and the Church of the United Brethren in Christ, united to form the Evangelical United Brethren Church. In 1968 this church joined with the Methodist Church to become the United Methodist Church, bringing more than half of world Methodism into one denomination. Methodist churches in other countries generally stem from either the British or the American Methodist traditions. Some national Methodist churches have become independent of their parent churches, which increases the importance of their cooperation through the World Methodist Council. The ecumenical movement, in which Methodists have been leading participants, has resulted in the unification of some Methodist groups with other denominations, making their longterm relationship with world Methodism problematic. "Methodism," Microsoft(R) Encarta(R) 96 Encyclopedia. (c) 1993-1995 Microsoft Corporation. All rights reserved. (c) Funk & Wagnalls Corporation. All rights reserved.
JOHN WESLEY Wesley, John (1703-91), English theologian, evangelist, and founder of Methodism. Wesley was born in the rectory at Epworth, Lincolnshire, on June 17, 1703, the 15th child of the British clergyman Samuel Wesley. He was educated at Charterhouse School and Christ Church, University of Oxford. Ordained deacon in 1725 and admitted to the priesthood of the Church of England in 1728, John Wesley acted for a time as curate to his father. In 1729 he went into residence at Oxford as a fellow of Lincoln College. There he joined the Holy Club, a group of students that included his brother Charles Wesley and, later, George Whitefield, who was to become the founder of Calvinistic Methodism. The club members adhered strictly and methodically to religious precepts and practices, among them visiting prisons and comforting the sick, and were thus derisively called "methodists" by their schoolmates. In 1735 Wesley went to Georgia as an Anglican missionary. On the ship to Savannah he met some German Moravians, whose simple evangelical piety greatly impressed him. He continued to associate with them while in Georgia and translated some of their hymns into English. Except for this association, Wesley's American experience was a failure. On his return to England in 1738, he again sought out the Moravians; while attending one of their meetings in Aldersgate St., London, on May 24, 1738, he experienced a religious awakening that profoundly convinced him that salvation was possible for every person through faith in Jesus Christ alone. In March 1739, George Whitefield, who had met with great success as an evangelist in Bristol, urged Wesley to join him in his endeavors. Despite his initial opposition to preaching outside the church, Wesley preached an open-air sermon on April 2, and the enthusiastic reaction of his audience convinced him that open-air preaching was the most effective way to reach the masses. Few pulpits would be open to him in any case, for the Anglican church frowned on revivalism. Wesley attracted immense crowds virtually from the outset of his evangelical career. His success also was due, in part, to the fact that contemporary England was ready for a revivalist movement; the Anglican church was seemingly unable to offer the kind of personal faith that people craved. Thus Wesley's emphasis on inner religion and his assurance that each person was accepted as a child of God had a tremendous popular appeal. On May 1, 1739, Wesley and a group of his followers, meeting in a shop on West St., London, formed the first Methodist society. Two similar organizations were established in Bristol the same month. Late in 1739 the London society began to meet in a building called the Foundry, which served as the headquarters of Methodism for many years. With the growth of the Methodist movement, the need for tighter organization became acute. In 1742 the societies were divided into classes, with a leader for each class. These class meetings contributed greatly to the success of the movement, but equally important were their leaders, many of whom Wesley designated lay preachers. Wesley called the first conference of Methodist leaders in 1744, and conferences were held annually thereafter. In 1751, at the age of 48, Wesley married Mary Vazeille, a widow with four children. The marriage was not successful, and she finally left him; Wesley had no children of his own. An indefatigable preacher and organizer, Wesley traveled about 8000 km (5000 mi) a year, delivering as many as four or five sermons a day and founding new societies. Wesley parted with the Moravians in 1740 because of doctrinal disagreements, and he rejected
the Calvinist doctrine of predestination, thus breaking with Whitefield. He also discarded many tenets of the Church of England, including the doctrine of the apostolic succession (the maintenance of an unbroken line of succession of bishops of the Christian church beginning with St. Peter), but he never voiced any intention of establishing the movement as a new church. His actions made separation inevitable, however. In 1784 he issued the deed of declaration, which provided rules and regulations for the guidance of the Methodist societies. The same year he appointed his aide Thomas Coke, an Anglican clergyman, a superintendent of the Methodist organization in the U.S., empowering him to administer the sacraments; other ordinations followed. Ordination represented the biggest step in the direction of a break with the Anglican church. Separation did not take place, however, until after Wesley's death. Wesley was deeply concerned with the intellectual, economic, and physical well-being of the masses. He was also a prolific writer on a wide variety of historical and religious subjects. His books were sold cheaply, so that even the poor could afford to buy them; thus he did much to improve the reading habits of the general public. He aided debtors and those trying to establish businesses and founded medical dispensaries. He opposed slavery and was interested in social reform movements of all kinds. Wesley compiled 23 collections of hymns, edited a monthly magazine, translated Greek, Latin, and Hebrew works, and edited, under the title The Christian's Pattern, the noted medieval devotional work De Imitatione Christi, generally ascribed to the German ecclesiastic Thomas Ă Kempis. His personal Journal (1735-90) is outstanding for the frank exposition of his spiritual development. In the latter years of his life the hostility of the Anglican church to Methodism had virtually disappeared, and Wesley was greatly admired. He died March 2, 1791, and was buried in the graveyard of City Road Chapel, London. In Westminster Abbey is a memorial plaque inscribed with his name.
CIRCUIT RIDERS The circuit rider, or itinerant preacher, was the mainstay of the Methodist church during its early years in England and the United States. John Wesley, the founder of Methodism, pioneered in itinerant preaching. Francis Asbury, an early leader of America's Methodists, was no less arduous in his travels. Before they died, Wesley had covered an estimated 300,000 miles and Asbury about 275,000 miles--mostly on horseback. Under the supervision of bishops in the American church, circuit riders were the crucial link between Methodist classes (12 to 15 individuals) and societies (larger groups in a locality). Their duties were to visit each class and society at least once a month, quiz members on their growth in the Christian faith, study diligently, and preach the gospel. Circuit riders eschewed wealth and, at least at first, seldom married. They brought order and a semblance of civilization to an unruly frontier population.
FAMOUS CIRCUIT RIDERS
Francis Asbury, b. Aug. 20, 1745, d. Mar. 31, 1816, an English- born American Methodist bishop, was the leader of the Methodist Episcopal Church, which through mergers with other denominations became the United Methodist Church in 1968. After experiencing trials in school and employment, Asbury underwent a spiritual conversion and joined a Methodist society at the age of 16. When he was 26, John Wesley appointed him missionary to the American colonies. Asbury's ship landed at Philadelphia on Oct. 27, 1771. For the rest of his life, Asbury traveled on horseback, gathering congregations in schoolhouses, cabins, and taverns. He provided a model for the circuit rider, or itinerant preacher. His journal records in detail his travels in the eastern United States and across the Appalachian Mountains, more than about 5,000 miles a year. He was a leading figure in the formation of the Methodist Episcopal Church in 1784, when he was ordained and elected superintendent, or bishop, as he came to be known.
Peter Cartwright, b. Sept. 1, 1785, d. Sept. 25, 1872, was an American Methodist preacher, the most famous of the itinerant preachers called the circuit riders. He preached his simple message of salvation and holiness in the American West for almost 70 years. Cartwright was a strong opponent of slavery and served for 16 years as a member of the Illinois state legislature. His only political defeat was by Abraham Lincoln in a race for the U.S. Congress in 1846.
EARLY HISTORY OF METHODISM IN ILLINOIS We today, living surrounded by Christian influences, with our churches in easy reach of all, do not, we fear, appreciate the cost at which these privileges have been bought. There have been many years of toil and hardship endured by our pioneer members and preachers which ought to make us more thankful for the work of these worthy people into whose labors we have entered. Much of the moral worth of the average people of this part of Illinois we owe to these pioneer preachers, who, with their saddlebags, rode their horses from settlement to settlement, and from log cabin to log cabin. Peter Cartwright tells us that the first Methodist Episcopal class formed in Illinois was organized in St. Clair County, the East St. Louis area, in 1793. Captain Joseph Ogle being appointed leader. In 1803 Benjamin Young was appointed missionary to Illinois by the Western Conference of the Methodist Episcopal Church. The first Conference Session in the state was held in the Shiloh meeting house, in St. Clair County, in 1820. In 1825 Peter Cartwright was appointed superintendent of the Pottawatomie Mission and Jesse Walker, missionary to the Pottawatomie Indians. Jesse Walker says, "In the spring of 1824 I opened connection with the Pottaawatomie Indians and found they were willing to receive a missionary. In the spring of 1825 with five white settlers, the first white settlers between Chicago and Galena, I proceeded to the mouth of the Fox River where I had a satisfactory council with five chiefs of said tribe. We immediately build cabins for the accommodation of the families. I opened a school, into which I received 15 Indian children. The place is about 100 miles above Fort Clark (now Peoria) about 20 miles north of the Illinois River, between it and the Fox River." This would be in the area of what is now known as Kendall County. The Indians roved, tented and hunted over the country bordering the Illinois, Fox and Des Plaines rivers, from Peoria to Fort Dearborn at Chicago. In 1829 Jesse Walker, missionary, was appointed to the Fox River Mission. He settled near Plainfield and organized a class of 8 members. He reported 30 members in 1830. As he went out and visited the scattered settlers he must have come to Pleasant Grove (Marengo) if it then existed. About 1830 settlers began coming to northern Illinois from the east and the south. By 1840 the present territory within the bounds of the Rock River Conference was covered by the Methodist Episcopal preacher. Most of the early Methodist Episcopal preachers in this part of Illinois, up to 1845, were from the south. Zadoc Hall, at the conference of 1832, was assigned the task of going up the west side of the Illinois River, above Peoria, to explore the country and his circuit, which was called Peoria Mission. He set out establishing appointments and organizing classes. He organized a class in the home of Abraham Jones, two miles west of Princeton, which later became the Princeton church. It was in 1833 that the Des Plaine Mission was divided, and the country lying along the Fox River, north to Ottawa, was called the Ottawa Mission, and William Royal was appointed to the work. He was born February 28th, 1796 near Winchester, Virginia, moving to Ohio with his family when still a boy. In June 1827, he came to Illinois and settled near Springfield, where he worked as a potter. A. E. Phelps was on the Salt Creek Circuit in 1830 and William Royal was his helper. In 1831 he was admitted to the Illinois Conference, and appointed to Ft. Clark (Peoria) Mission. This circuit extended to Ottawa on the Illinois River and required long journeys and much hard
work. In 1833 the northern part of Peoria Mission was made part of the Ottawa Mission, and William Royal was the preacher. He knew Mr. Abraham Jones, having been his preacher further south, and in seeking his way over his new charge that year, he lost his way at night, and was guided to the Jones' house by the crowing of the fowls. The house was of logs unfinished. It had a slab roof, puncheon floor, no doors or windows. Rev. Royal pulled aside the quilt which served as a door, and seeing who was within, exclaimed, "Well, I guess I am at home at last." He found a ready welcome. In 1835 the Rev. William Royal, a member of the Illinois Conference, was appointed to the newly formed Fox River Mission. This mission embraced all from Ottawa to Rockford. William Royal was on the Ottawa Mission the year before, and pushed up the Fox river as far as the white man had gone. Ottawa was made the center of a circuit, and all the appointments north of Milford, and country beyond to the Rock River, constituted the Fox River Mission, which this peer among pioneer princes, was sent to explore. Sometime during 1836 he explored the country between the Fox and Rock Rivers, and went over the trackless prairies and bridgeless streams establishing appointments and organizing classes at places that have since become Marengo, Rockford, Belvidere and other towns. When it was found that one preacher could not do the work, Samuel Pillsbury, who joined the conference the next year, was sent to help him. A few of the appointments were established the year before; but at Pleasant Grove (Marengo), Belvidere, and Rockford, he preached the first sermons and organized classes. In 1835, a man by the name of Calvin Spencer applied for homestead rights on land along the south shore of the Kishwaukee river. Soon after Spencer was settled, other pioneers followed. thus the beginning of what is now known as Marengo. The first settlements commenced in Belvidere in 1835. In June 1836, the first sermon was preached in Mr. Caswell's house by William Royal, who was at that time on the Fox River Mission. Rev. Royal, it will be remembered, set out in the spring of 1836 forming classes and establishing appointments from Elgin to Rockford. Stephen Arnold, who was sent to the newly formed Sycamore Circuit in 1836, kept up the appointment at Belvidere, but a class was not organized until September 24, 1837, three days before the session of the conference that year. William Royal, when on Fox River Mission established an appointment at Pleasant Grove (Marengo) in 1836. The Methodist Episcopal class was organized a year later, in June, 1837, with Rev. Leander S. Walker being assigned preacher in charge.
HISTORY OF THE MARENGO UNITED METHODIST CHURCH 1837-1997 The Beginning The Marengo Methodist Episcopal Church, which is now known as the Marengo United Methodist Church, had its origin in the fall of 1837. A circuit formed about that time, known as the "Sycamore Circuit", was nearly 300 square miles in size, including the country north of Sycamore between the Rock River and Fox River and to the north to the Wisconsin state line. Leander S. Walker circuit rider, was the preacher in charge, Wm. Gaddis his assistant and John Clark the presiding elder, an office similar to that of the present district superintendent. Marengo was then known as Pleasant Grove. In about 1841, when the first post office was built, the town needed a name. When it was discovered there was already a Pleasant Grove in Illinois, the name was changed to Marengo. (Marengo will be used hereafter in this document) A "Class" was formed at Marengo in 1837, with Leander S. Walker as preacher, A. E. Smith as leader and the following members: Asenath Smith, Samuel Smith, Polly Smith, Eunice Cobb, Orson P. Rogers, Mary S. Rogers and Chester Williams. Eunice Cobb, known as "Mother Cobb", wife of Whitman Cobb, arrived in Riley in 1835. Like most of the early settlers they were farmers. Mother Cobb established the Marengo Methodist Episcopal Sunday school in 1839 and was the first Sunday school teacher. She made arrangements for traveling ministers, circuit riders, to use the newly built school for Sunday school and church services. She habitually walked ten miles over wild prairie to attend Sunday school, church and prayer meetings. We are thankful that descendants of Mother Cobb, Peter Perkins and family, are still part of our worshipping fellowship in this year, 1997. Peter Perkins, son of Lawrence and Martha Perkins, is her great-great-great grand-son and his children are her great-great-great-great grand-children. Martha Perkins, Peter's mother, was a great-great grand-daughter of Mother Cobb. During these early years this area was occupied by Indians and was not yet officially open to settlement, but a number of settlers had actually moved in and built homes, most likely log cabins. It was in these homes, or later on, in public buildings if available, that early church services were held. Imagine for a minute, these early members of the Marengo Class walking, riding a horse, or, if they could afford it, riding in a horse drawn conveyance for miles to attend worship services held in a members house, barn, shed or, if available, a public building. From that time until the present their courage and influence have been constantly felt. Their triumphs and trials have been many, but as people look back over the entire history they can say, "The Lord has been with us and blessed us all along the way." What an awesome responsibility the people of the present day Marengo United Methodist Church have to preserve and carry on this heritage. In May 1838, the assistant pastor, William Gaddis, held his first service here at the home of Dr. Eli Smith, who lived on the farm of Mrs. George Frink. Those present being the Smith family, L. Bache and Orson P. Rogers. The regular pastor, L. S. Walker, was at the time sick on his claim north of Bonus in Boone County. Other early services were held in Mr. Roger's home in Coral, Moses Spencer's home and Orson P. Roger's home. During these early years the church attempted to settle disputes and legal matters between its members; these "trials" were about lying, stealing, line fences, entering land where another lived, etc.
In 1838 the Sycamore Circuit was divided and Marengo became part of the Rockford Circuit. In 1839 the Rockford Circuit was divided and Marengo became part of the Crystal Lake Circuit along with Round Prairie, Chemung, Richmond, Queen Ann Prairie, McHenry, Crystal Lake, Harmony, Coral, Franklinville, Coon Creek and Pigeon Woods. Quarterly Conference of Crystal Lake Circuit One record states: "On May 16, 1840, the First Quarterly Conference of the Crystal Lake Circuit was held at Marengo on Saturday evening, and the preaching on Sunday was at a barn in the town of Coral. In August of the same year a camp meeting was held at the Diggins settlement near what is now Harvard." Another record of the First Quarterly Conference is a transcript of the minutes found in a box at the church by Rev. Henry H. Barnes about 1937. These minutes stated: "The First Quarterly Conference for the Crystal Lake Circuit was not held for the conference year 1840-1841, in consequence of a mistake in the information given to the presiding elder in regard to the placeand- also in consequence of the absence of the official members, only one of whom was present on Saturday, the circuit preacher." "The Second Quarterly Conference meeting for the Crystal Lake Circuit for the year 1840-1841 was held at the house of Brother David Duffield on January 30th, 1841. The Presiding Elder, John L. Mitchel, opened the meeting by singing and prayer and then took the chair. The following members took their seats: O. A. Walker , circuit preacher; Philander Ferry, Ora Lewis Coral, assistant circuit preachers; Uriah Cattle, Leander Bishop, Wm. McConnell, Calvin H. Spappley, circuit stewards; Truman Harvey, Luther Fink, Edson G. Wood, John M. Bay, and Samuel R. Morris (member of the Marengo Class), class leaders." First session of the Rock River Conference The first session of the Rock River Conference was held August 26, 1840 at Mt. Morris, Illinois, Bishop Beverly Waught presiding. It is not generally known that the work of the Methodist Episcopal missionaries among the Indians resulted in two Indians preachers joining the Rock River Conference when it was organized in 1840. They were George Copway, whose Indian name was Kahkahgebow, and H. P. Chase. At the afternoon session of the conference on Sunday, H. P. Chase preached a strong missionary sermon. He used many figurative allusions to illustrate the spread of Methodism. "Men of science," he said, "so far as I know, have never been able to make water run up stream; but Methodism has accomplished it, causing the waters of salvation to flow up the Mississippi, even to Lake Superior. The beavers build dams and form their colonies, and when the colonies become overgrown the head beaver sets out up stream on an exploring trip, to search out a place for a new dam. Returning, he takes a few bold ones with him, and they build a new dam and form a new colony. So the Methodists came over the Ohio River, and went up the Mississippi, causing the waters of salvation to flow to Galena and to Prairie du Chien. A colony was formed many years ago in Illinois. The Illinois Conference colony has carried on the work. The waters flowed up the Illinois river to Ottawa and Chicago, up the Fox River to Big Woods, to St. Charles, to Elgin, and ran over the banks to the country east and west. They flowed up the Rock River to Dixon and Buffalo Grove; and now," said the eloquent Indian, pointing to Bishop Waugh, "the big beaver, the bishop, has come here on Pine Creek to form another colony that will possess the land. And, thank God, these waters of life have rolled on to Upper Mississippi, to Lake Superior, and lo, the poor Indian is drinking of the stream." 1840's In 1841, O. A. Walker was the preacher in charge, Phelander Ferry his assistant and John T. Mitchell was presiding elder. At that time there were two Sunday Schools on the circuit; one at
Crystal Lake with a superintendent, 4 teachers and 20 scholars; one at Marengo with a superintendent, 5 teachers and 22 scholars. It was said, "the schools were in a flourishing condition." In 1848 or 49, Calvin Spencer offered to give the congregation some land and Anson Rogers and Orson P. Rogers agreed to put up the frame of a building, and the brethren agreed to finish it. The frame, 30X50 was erected on the lot. A portion of the lumber to enclose it was purchased, but a trustee sold the lumber, the money was later paid back. In the meantime the frame blew down and the building never completed. The church seems to have had no permanent house of worship until the Old Stone Church was built in 1856. It may have had a temporary building, but there is no record to substantiate this. 1850's There was no particular change in the Crystal Lake Circuit until 1852. The country had become pretty well settled; the circuit riders were faithful in their work; the classes became larger and more numerous and it was difficult to meet the needs of the hour with the facilities at hand. This led in 1852 to another division of the Circuit, and the Marengo Circuit was formed. It's bounds were not clearly defined in the records, but it included Marengo, Coral, Union, Huntly, Harmony, East Prairie, Hampshire, Cobb's and Coon Creek. Rev. L. Anderson was the preacher in charge at the time of the formation of the Marengo Circuit. Marengo designated a Station The Marengo Circuit continued until 1857, when another division was made; The Marengo Methodist Episcopal membership had grown and became strong enough to support a resident pastor, therefore it was designated a "Station" and Rev. J. P. Vance, Marengo's current itinerant pastor, was assigned as resident pastor. In 1856-57, G. L. Stuff was the presiding elder. The Old Stone Church From what records are available, old newspaper articles, etc., it appears the Old Stone Church was built in 1855 and early 1856, before Marengo became a Station. Most likely the building project was started during Rev. Wright's tenure and completed during Rev. Vance's pastorate. The trustees were Anson Rogers, David G. Boyce, Amos Boyce and O. P. Rogers. The building committee consisted of P. W. Dietz, Allen Jewett and O. P. Rogers. On March 27, 1856 the Old Stone Church was dedicated by Rev. John Dempster, one of the prominent personalities in the founding of Garrett Theological Seminary, our special school for training ministers, located in Evanston, Illinois. In the Old Stone Church the organ and choir were at the right of the pulpit. J. B. Babcock, leader of the choir for many years, sat in the first chair, next to him was the leading soprano, Mrs. Jennie McKee, later known as Mrs. Shipman. The organist was Lottie Holcomb, who later became the wife of C. W. Prescott. At the left of the pulpit were three pews facing the pulpit which were known as the "Amen Corner" where Osgood Joslyn, Mick McDonald, Josephus Harris, Thomas Gilkerson and perhaps others who occasionally were in the habit of responding loudly with their "Amens" when they especially approved of parts of the sermons. The old church was once struck by lighting which destroyed most of the tower. removed, never to be replaced.
The tower was
About fifteen years after the old church was completed (abt. 1871) it was enlarged to accommodate the larger congregation. A parsonage for the minister was build just east of the Old Stone Church. No record of the
construction date can be found, but it is referred to in some of the early attempts to record the history of the Marengo Methodist Church. It can be assumed the construction date would have been in the late 1850's or 1860's. The first records There are no official Marengo Methodist Episcopal Church records dating back before 1858. Many interesting comments appear among these "Old Records", marriages recorded with witnesses and also the amount of the fee. During 1861-65, the Civil War era, there are such comments as "gone to war", "enlisted", "killed in action", "died in the army". When members left the church some of the records noted only "withdrawn", "expelled", or at times the entry was simply "gone home", or "died in peace". The first Sunday School report after Marengo became a Station was in 1858, it showed 150 scholars, 25 conversions, 150 volumes in the library, 16 officers and teachers, and expenses were $14.27. Daniel Peck was superintendent. Great Redfield Revival In the winter of 1856-57, soon after the completion of the Stone Church, the great Redfield Revival occurred, and there was a large addition to the membership of the Marengo Methodist Episcopal church as well as other Marengo churches. One of the results of this revival was that several of those converted felt called to preach. Licenses to preach were given to E. P. Hart ( he later became a Bishop of the Free Methodist Church), R. M Hooker, S. R. Paynter and I. H. Richardson. Another of the results of this revival was the withdrawal a few years later of quite a number of members, including some of the original founders of the church and others who had later become members. This group joined in organizing the Free Methodist Church in Marengo. The remaining members of the church were left with an indebtedness on the church property of about $1,100, but they girded themselves anew, and in the course of a few years paid off the debt, and by additions to their numbers by letter of transfer and from probation, recovered their loss and prospered well and in great peace until 1870-72, when an anti-Masonic crusade, organized by outside parties, created a division again in the church. Quite a large number withdrew and organized the Independent Church, again leaving the old church with quite a heavy indebtedness. A few years later the Independent Church disbanded and several of the members returned to the Methodist Episcopal church, some joined other churches and some had died or moved away. The church however again rallied its forces and steadily prospered spiritually and financially, and continued to fulfill its mission in Marengo - a power for good. Even though in later years there have been times when small groups have withdrawn from the church for what they thought good reasons, it is eminently proper to say there has been a stalwart band of loyal Christian men and women who have stood by the church through all its trials, who have never wavered in their allegiance and fidelity to Methodism. Happily, the past differences and dissension's are things of the past, relegated to the shades of forgetfulness, and peace and concord prevail. The unpleasant trials and tribulations of the past are only incidentally and even reluctantly referred to as forming a part of the past history of the church. Eunice "Mother" Cobb was one of those instrumental in bringing Dr. Redfield to Marengo for the revival. Although Dr. Redfield was the direct instrument for this evangelistic effort through which hundreds were brought into the body of Christ, everyone knew that it was Mother Cobb's years of faithful labors that "Broke up the fallow ground and prepared the way." Commenting on Mother Cobb's work, Dr. Redfield said, "She is so far advanced in the race of faith, so subdued to the will of God, so far ahead, it seems like a wilderness between us, the distance is so great." The following is taken from the book, "The Life of John Wesley Redfield, M.D., by Rev. Joseph Goodwin Terrill. Published in 1891 by the Free Methodist Publishing House. It is only right that we know more about Rev. Redfield because of the impact he had upon the Marengo Methodist Church for those few years from 1856 to when he died in 1863.
John Wesley Redfield was born in Claremont, New Hampshire, January 23, 1810. On the night of his birth an esteemed Christian woman dreamed that she was visited by an angel who told her to go to the home of the Redfields and she would find there a new born son; and that she must announce to the mother that he must be named John Wesley. She was also informed that this would be assented to immediately by the mother, who would respond, "That is his name." This woman did as she was bidden, and all came to pass as she had dreamed. F. W. Redfield well known in the eastern states for his revival and camp meetings, where hundreds, or even thousands, were converted to Christianity. Perhaps the following, taken from a letter written May 7, 1855, about eighteen months before the Marengo revival meeting, to a colleague, Brother Kendall, will give us an insight to what kind of a man he was and the problems he was having in the later years of his life. He wrote: Dear Brother Kendall--I'm glad indeed to hear from you, and most of all, from the tone of your letter, that you have not been bought, coaxed, nor frightened from your stand for God and the truth. Oh, how my heart takes courage at the sound of the war-whoop from the few daring servants of God, who are big enough to be little, who know enough to be simple, and who have courage enough to dare to stand up and out, straight for the right! Our cause is right, it will triumph. We shall conquer. Go ahead, dear brother, and when your reputation is all exhausted in the war, you are at liberty to draw upon me for what fragments of a broken-down reputation I may have left. Rev. Redfield came to northeastern Illinois and while engaged at Elgin, Illinois, he was visited by Mr. L. M. Hart, of Marengo, at the instance of the official board of the Methodist Church, to request him to assist in a revival meeting in Marengo. Mr. and Mrs. Hart had been somewhat acquainted with Mr. Redfield's labors in the east, and when they heard of his being in Elgin, they recommended him to the Marengo church. He consented to go, on condition that the official board would allow him the liberty to preach according to the Bible and Methodist Discipline. On Mr. Hart's return, a meeting of the board was called, and a motion to invite Mr. Redfield on his own conditions was unanimously adopted. Mr. Redfield on learning of this determined to go as soon as he could leave Elgin. In a letter, written at Elgin, by Rev. Redfield to a "Brother Kendall", he wrote, "Tomorrow I must go to Marengo, about twenty-five miles from here. The preacher there is used up, can preach no more, and must have help". (He was referring to Rev. J. P. Vance who was pastor of the Marengo Methodist Church for one year, 1856-1857.) When Mr. Redfield arrived at Marengo, he had an opportunity to listen to the religious testimonies of some of the membership, and saw that it would take very thorough work to give the stamp of piety that was needed in that place. It was also evident that a large portion of those who had professed to be converted knew but little about religious experience. In his first sermon he endeavored to show that it was the privilege of Christians to live in the land of Beulah constantly. This so shocked some of the membership that they could scarcely endure him from that time. One member of the official board stated, that if it had not been for the pledge that they would let Mr. Redfield go straight on the Bible and Discipline, it would have been difficult to have gained their consent to let him continue. They never had heard the truth presented in that way before. General Superintendent, E. P. Hart, of the Free Methodist Church, son of the M. L. Hart who bore the request to Mr. Redfield to come to Marengo, says; "I had professed religion during the meetings that had been held previous to the Doctor's coming, but I knew scarcely anything of real religion. I had heard father and mother speak of the Doctor in such strong terms, and such wonderful reports had come to us of the meetings in Elgin, that I was full of expectation of listening to marvelous eloquence. I went to a friend and relative of mine, a lawyer by the name of Rogers, and invited him to go with me and listen to the wonderful man. I became very anxious that Rogers should be favorably impressed, and remarked as we approached the church, 'He
may be a little embarrassed tonight, as he is a total stranger, and may not do as well as when he becomes better acquainted.' When we got inside the church, I found it very difficult to get Rogers a seat, and was obliged to take one of the pulpit steps for myself. As soon as the Doctor commenced, I forgot all about Rogers. My hopes of heaven were all swept away by the truth, and from that time I could not conscientiously profess religion. The Doctor had taken tea at our house, and now went home with us to tarry for the night. As soon as we had got seated around the stove, after my return, he asked me how I enjoyed the meeting. I replied, 'Oh, very well; I am not use to quite so much noise. "My brother, ' said he, 'has the Lord made you ear inspector of This community?" "This settled me, as far as that was concerned, but I did not get out into a good experience until long after the protracted meeting closed." This revival swept the town and the surrounding country. People came from five to twenty miles in their own conveyances, and often the house would be well filled an hour and a half before the time for service. Many were converted in their wagons on the way home. The number converted has been estimated at from four to five hundred. Every whisky-shop in the place was closed, and many of the worst of people were converted. Large numbers were entirely sanctified, and a light was kindled that has never gone out. Many have died, who were saved in that meeting, who honored God while they lived, and who triumphed gloriously in their last moments. Among the many trophies of divine grace was that of the village drayman, a man by the name of Boyington. He was very wicked and blasphemous. When he was saved he became more remarkable for his piety. Endowed with remarkable good sense, and with a quaintness of expression peculiarly his own, he was always interesting, whether in private conversation, or in public testimony. He lived for about twenty-five years, a ;monument of mercy, and then fell asleep in Jesus. A physician by the name of Richardson entered into the experience of perfect love, and though rejected by the conference, when he applied for work, was taken to Minnesota, by a visiting presiding elder, and given employment. He became very successful, and was made a great blessing to the church and the world. There were a number of deeply experienced Christians, who quickly recognized the work of God, and who rallied around Mr. Redfield, and gave great aid to the work. One of these was "Mother Cobb, who for many years was the only living witness to the experience of perfect love in all those parts. She had then walked in the steady light of it for more than forty years. She lived for nearly twenty more in the light of that experience, when God took her home. Another was "Mother Combs", a woman of deep piety, clear understanding, and consistent life. Another was the mother of Superintendent Hart. She had been led into the experience by Rev. James Caughey. The pastor of the church was no help to the work, and providentially kept away. Soon after the close of the meetings he was arraigned before the presiding elder on a charge of drunkenness. He soon after went to one of the frontier states and engaged in the practice of law. One of the results of this meeting was the starting of a Monday evening holiness meeting at the home if a brother Bishop, several miles out in the country, that was sustained through summer and winter for several years. It was nothing unusual for people to come from six to nine miles to that meeting, and return the same night. Many were converted and many sanctified in those meetings. Mr. Redfield was pained at one thing in connection with his work in Marengo -- the want of care
with respect to the results of the meeting. He says: "Could the Methodist Church have been persuaded to take care of the work, rather than to contend against it, it might have spread further, and a more glorious harvest have been reaped." The presiding elder could but endorse the character of the work, but thought in the end it would work harm, as it would be impossible to supply it with preachers who would be acceptable to the people -- that is, it was unfortunate to have such a revival, because there were so few preachers in the conference who were in sympathy with it. Rev. Redfield must have become ill and lived in Marengo after the revival meetings. In a letter to Sister Roberts, dated Feb. 10, 1862, from Marengo, IL, Rev. Redfield wrote: â€œI have been learning lessons through my whole affliction that nothing but this very severe stroke could teach me.â€? During the winter of 62 and 63 Rev. Redfield made a visit to Buffalo, and then to Syracuse, where were pilgrims of mighty faith, and he hoped for restoration in answer to their prayers. Here he began to show evidence of the breaking down of his mind; which led many of his friends to distrust his personal convictions of duty. This caused him great pain. He returned to Marengo to the home of Brother Joslyn, who had so long cared for him. The last letter he ever wrote was from Marengo, dated Oct. 29, 1863. This letter was to a Brother F--------. He ended this letter with: The great battle has begun. God and the devil are in combat. War, war, is everywhere. The spirit land is in commotion. The world has caught the spirit conflict. Armageddon has sounded the war cry, and the closing struggle is upon us. As a sentinel for the truth you, yes you, Brother F--------, must stand. God has ratified your authority by your success, and he now demands, and will hold you responsible for, fidelity. God help you, is my prayer. November 1st, the next day after writing this letter, another stroke of paralysis came, and he was laid upon his bed in an apparently unconscious state. Friends watched over him with more than final solicitude; but his eyes were darkened, and his eloquent lips were hushed. A few minutes before eight o'clock, November 2, 1863, his right leg drew up and straightened out again in the same manner in which he was accustomed to stamp at the turning point of his great spiritual battles. A hush came upon all in the room. The place seemed filled with the hosts of God, and John Wesley Redfield was at rest. Two days later his funeral was held in the Free Methodist Church in Marengo, Illinois, conducted by his friend and beloved brother in the Lord, Rev. B. T. Roberts. Six young ministers, who loved him as their lives, bore him to his last resting place in the beautiful cemetery near by. Above his grave stands a small marble shaft, and inscribed upon it is this fitting tribute: "He Was True to His Motto,--Fidelity to God" One hundred and thirty nine years later, this tombstone still stands in the Marengo City Cemetery. Josephus and Rachel Harris Of the many especially interesting personalities who worshipped in the Old Stone Church were Josephus and Rachel Harris and their daughter, Tennessee (Tennie). The family joined the church in 1870 and were members for many years and are buried in the Marengo City Cemetery. What makes this couple especially interesting? Josephus, of "Amen Corner" note, was a former slave and had been a cook in the 127th Ill. Infantry during the Civil War. He died in 1888, leaving his widow, also a former slave, fondly called "Aunt Rachel" by the townspeople. No other person(s) in the church membership records were noted as being "black". Rachel was reportedly the only black nurse in the Civil War. She was born a slave in Mississippi
and might have lived her life there had she not been captured by Union troops while she was working as a field hand. She cooperated with the Northern troops and became a capable and respected field nurse who came to the attention of Col. Frank Curtiss of Marengo and his brother, Ira. Her relationship with Frank and Ira Curtiss explains how the family eventually moved to Marengo. They owned and lived in the house at 217 Chappel St., Marengo. Aunt Rachel was an excellent laundress and also a midwife. She sometimes called upon young girls to write letters for her. One Sunday afternoon they were doing their best to help her write a letter regarding her pension, and she used the work "alfred david", which the girls did not understand. Later their mothers explained to them, "affidavit". The following is the obituary of "Aunt" Rachel Elizabeth Harris, a great tribute to her, the members of the Marengo Methodist Church and the citizens of Marengo who, casting aside all prejudices, were proud to call her a friend: Mrs. Rachel Harris Yields to King Death After Weeks of Suffering After many weeks of suffering "Aunt" Rachel Harris passed to the Shining Shores about five o'clock on Tuesday afternoon, May 7, 1907. The funeral was held in the Methodist church Thursday afternoon, Rev. E. G. Schutz officiating and the services were attended by a large number who had learned to admire the warmhearted friend of everybody in the city. Born in slavery, her age is not exactly known, but she claimed to be about 69 years old. Her first acquaintance with Marengo people was at Natches, Miss., where her efficiency and kindheartedness soon found her nursing in Uncle Sam's hospitals. After a short service of this character she was sent North and with two daughters came to Marengo in 1863, and this place has ever since been her home. She was married to Josephus Harris, who died about 20 years ago. Like all people born and brought up as a slave, she was uneducated but possessed that higher culture which all possess who closely emulate the character of Him who came into this world to set the captives fee. Despite her lowly birth she won the admiration and esteem of all who had the pleasure of her acquaintance. For many years she was a devoted follower of the World's Savior and a most faithful attendant upon the various services of the Methodist church, to which she belonged. She was an honored member of the Women's Relief Corps and the local W.C.T.U. It was her happiness to always extend a helping hand and kind word of sympathy to any in trouble and affliction. During the many weeks of intense suffering she was ever resigned to the will of her Master, and carried out the Biblical Injunction to cast thy burdens upon the Lord. While she had long ministered to the wants of others, so in her last illness the people were most generous in trying to alleviate her burden. Her only daughter, Mrs. John R. Whyte, has been here some weeks and tenderly cared for her mother. In the death of "Aunt" Rachel, many of our people, who had the pleasure of her acquaintance, realize that they have lost a true and self-sacrificing friend, and will sincerely mourn with her only surviving daughter and relatives. Burial of "Aunt" Rachel Harris A large concourse of people met at the M. E. Church, Thursday afternoon to pay homage to an old and much loved and respected citizen. Mrs. Rachel Harris was born in Holly Springs, Mississippi, nearly 70 years ago. She was married in the South to John Tyler, and to them two children were born. Her husband was killed at Milliken's Bend in the Civil War. She then remained with the regiment as a nurse. Col. Frank
Curtiss sent her to Marengo in 1863 to live with his mother. She was married to Joesphus Harris in March, 1864. She had been a member of the M. E. Church for over 40 years, and was a charter member of the W.C.T.U. and the W.R.C. of Marengo. She was also a member of the National Association of Army Nurses, and "Biddie Circle Ladies of Grand Army of the Republic" of St. Paul, Minn. She leaves to mourn her loss one daughter and two grandsons, and many friends who, casting aside all prejudices, were proud to call her friend. Her mission had ever been, "I am one among you to serve." Born in slavery, seeing much of life and suffering, she was as one who had gazed long on the sin and sorrow of the world and letting go the horror had retained only the tender, heavenly pity. Rev. Schutz spoke fitting words of comfort from Rev. 14:13. The singing was pleasingly rendered by Mesdames Norton and Mead and Messrs. Usborne and Kitchen. The W.R.C. then took charge of the services, the beautiful ritualistic services being used, conducted by the President, Mrs. Hattie Loomis, in an impressive manner, and emblematic indeed seemed the canopy of silken stars and stripes over the casket of one of that host that had been delivered from the bondage by that emblem of American Freedom. Internment took place in the Marengo cemetery, where amid the spring loveliness "Aunt" Rachel, as she was lovingly known, "passed into her own."
Camp Meetings The very popular camp meetings, that were attended by many of the Marengo Methodist congregation, were inter-congregational, often trans-denominational, Protestant gatherings for the purpose of giving extended time to intense, often revivalistic, preaching, Bible study, and prayer. They originated in the outdoor convocation of the American frontier during the early 19th century. At that time, those attending traveled to the appointed place and pitched camp; hence, the name, "camp meeting". The immense success of these meetings led to their permanent establishment. Originally, Baptists, Methodists, and Presbyterians held joint camp meetings, but by the mid-1800s, both the Presbyterians and the Baptists had divided deeply over their value and generally ceased to support them officially. Thus, they became an essentially Methodist institution. With the liberalizing of Methodism, camp meetings had, by 1900, become the sanctuary of critics of liberal trends. In 1895 the Cherry Valley Camp Meeting was discontinued and the association bought the ground which was later known as Camp Epworth where religious services were held for the eastern section of the Rockford District. The Elgin-Belvidere Electric Railroad made stops at the camp grounds, without a doubt contributing to it's success. Later many cottages were erected and were used by Methodist of near by towns. The Gilkerson cottage was always open to any from Marengo who wished to take advantage of the hospitality. Mr. and Mrs. (Libbie) Charles Gilkerson gave of their time and talent in helping the young people both in Junior League and Epowrth League. A dormitory was erected and also a fine tabernacle with its large platform which would accommodate scores of singers who praised the Lord with gladness. Outside speakers of note, as well as pastors in the district, brought inspiration and helpful sermons, many were converted at these camp meetings. The Camp Epworth grounds were sold to the Free Methodist people about 1944, and individual owners disposed of their lots and cottages.
Camp Epworth, the popular camp meeting location for the Marengo area churches, was located about ten miles west of Marengo, just west of Garden Prairie on the north side of Rt. 20 and the east side of Epworth Road. Many of the original buildings, some of them now remodeled into individually owned homes, and others that have been neglected for these many years, still remain on the site. The Old Stone Church, the end of an era The following is from an article, by Presiding Elder, F. S. Hardin, in the Marengo Republican Newspaper, sometime in 1897: Sunday was a "field day" at the M. E. Church, and will long be remembered in Methodist circles. A jubilee service for the entire day had been announced, with the expectation that it would be the last service in the old church, but between the time of the announcement and the day, other arrangements had been entered into, but which in no way detracted from the service. At 9:30 a love-feast was held, conducted by Pastor Rose, assisted by Rev. C. W. Thornton.. The audience room was early filled, and by the time for preaching every available seat, with chairs in the aisles, were occupied. The love-feast was spirited and on occasion of great blessing, every moment of time being occupied, and sometimes three or four persons were on their feet at the same time, to testify. The genial atmosphere of the love-feast, was an excellent preparation for the sermon, and Brother Thornton, under its inspiration and the presence of so many faces familiar from a five year pastorate, was at his best, and gave one of his very best discourses from the text, "I have hallowed this house." Among other things he spoke of the building of the present edifice at a time when great sacrifices had to be made by the comparatively few Methodists here, their earnest devotion to the cause of God, the dedication of the church in 1856, the conversion of over 1100 persons of whom record had been made, and probably hundreds more of whom there was no record; of the power for good, this, with the other churches, had been in the community, of its scenes of holy baptism, of marriage, of solemn funeral rites, and in all of which god had set his seal of approval, had "hallowed this house;" of the Sunday School, the class meeting, League meetings, and the influence for good both for time and eternity that had emanated from this sanctuary, of the ministers, class leaders, Sunday School superintendents, lawyers, teachers and judges abroad in the land who had received their impressions of good and an impetus for their life-work that were testifying that God had indeed "hallowed this house." Of those who had gone out from here who always spoke of the Marengo M. E. church as their ideal of a live, working church, about which is to them such a heavenly atmosphere that they express the desire that if they cannot reach heaven, they want to get as far as Marengo, viewing Marengo as a way-station to heaven. At the close of the sermon a paper was circulated and $160 was pledged towards the new church. The Sunday School session was held at 12:30, and was unusually well attended and very interesting. Rev. G. H. Wells, of Hampshire, was expected to preach in the afternoon, but owing to previous engagements was unable to be there, and many were greatly disappointed. However, a meeting was held at 3 o'clock, and short addresses were made by Pastor Rose, Br. Thornton, O. P. Rogers, L. Woodard and others; mingled with song, praise and testimony the meeting was interesting and profitable. The church was well filled. O. P. Rogers and Amos Boyce are the only persons now living here who were members of the official board when the old church was built, 1853-56. Loren Woodard, who has given so liberally according to his ability and worked faithfully in the construction of the old church, and has been one of its steadfast supporters and counselors. Bros. Rogers and Woodward spoke with much feeling in the afternoon meeting of the struggle
and sacrifice to complete the church, and of the brethren who had wrought since in the work of the church. J. H. Bulard and wife, and Mrs. Eliza Boyce no living longer here, were also members of the church at the time of dedication and there may possibly be a few others, but nearly all have joined the silent majority. The class meeting at 6:30 was largely attended and every moment of the hour allotted was filled with song, prayer and testimony. Rev. W. H. Smith, of Genoa, preached at 7:30 from the text: "And be not conformed to this world, but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good and acceptable will of God." Although Rev. Smith had preached twice before that day, yet looking upon an audience that filled the church until they were "packed like sardines in a box," and recognizing so many familiar faces, his weariness left him, and he gave one of his most excellent sermons, which had the closest attention throughout, and which received frequent Methodist punctuation's. In closing he congratulated the Society on the bright prospects before it for a new edifice, and how great and noble as was the record of the old church. He prayed fervently that the glory of the latter house might greatly exceed that of the former. Following the sermon, the ordinance of baptism was administered to five persons, and eleven were received from probation to full membership. Presiding Elder Hardin arrived from Garden Prairie a little after nine o'clock and after making a short talk in his peculiarly interesting, rousing manner, held a testimony meeting, full of spirit and power, until ten o'clock when the benediction was pronounced. Hand shaking was indulged in, and the people regretfully bade adieu to "Bethel" to go to their homes. Many who in former years had worshipped in the old church, came to share in the blessing of the Jubilee services, join in the songs of the sanctuary, and mingle their hearts and voices in prayer and praise. It was a day they will long remember, and probably none who were present will ever forget it while memory holds sway. And of the old church, and the altar where they knelt and sought and found forgiveness, very many can say: "Oh, sacred hour, Oh, hallowed spot, Where love divine first found me, Wherever falls my distant lot, My heart shall linger 'round thee. And when from earth I rise to soar, Up to my home in heaven, Down will I cast my eyes once more, Where I was first forgiven." In 1897 the Old Stone Church, dedicated in 1856, was sold with the stipulation that the church could use the building until the new church was completed. The old church was vacated by the congregation in 1897 when the new church was build directly east of the old church. The old church was sold to Mr. R. M. Patrick, who at the time planned on enlarging and remodeling it, in then modern style, for a public library and reading room. It is questionable if that plan ever materialized. The building housed a movie theater for many years. Newspaper records indicate the building housed the Rio Theater in 1935. Later it housed the Colonial Theater for many years before it was sold to the city in 1984. The building was then demolished and a city parking lot was constructed on the site, which is directly west of the church annex, formally the church parsonage. It served well its day and generation as a place of worship. It is difficult to estimate the number of persons who were converted and led to a better life within the walls of the old church, but it is safe to say that the number will exceed 1,000. All have passed on over the Tide to their final rewards, and the Great Day alone will reveal all the trophies of the toil and prayer of those who "labored not in vane" in the Master's vineyard, and the "patient continuance in well
doing," of those who receive the Master's approval of "well done." No small number of those converted at her altars went out as heralds of the Cross and did grand service in preaching the everlasting Gospel. Of the number, one was Bishop of the F. M. Church, several were Presiding Elders, many were prominent ministers in the Church, others were prominent laymen in various capacities, wherever their lot may be cast. The new church building The building of the new church was first discussed during the last year of the pastorate of Rev. C. W. Thornton, but at that time is was not deemed advisable to proceed with the erection of a new edifice, although some liberal subscriptions were offered. When Rev. Edward J. Rose was appointed to serve Marengo, and after a revival that resulted in 72 new members joining the church on one Sunday morning, the subject was again brought forth and plans were put on foot to erect the present beautiful structure. Rev. Rose went into the work with determination, and after this first step was taken worked with untiring energy to insure its completion. The next steps taken toward the building of the new church were during the Quarterly Conference, on the evening of February 8th, 1897, at which 20 of the 23 members were present. Action was taken as to the location of the new M. E. Church, to sell the old church to Mr. R. M. Patrick, and the trustees were authorized to purchase the Patrick property east of the parsonage, a corner lot on Washington St. to the north and Taylor St. to the east, for $1,850, and on this lot locate the new church edifice. Then the pastor asked for the appointment of a building members: C. D. Carpenter, L. Woodward, J. W. Usborne and J. F. Warren. The pastor was authorized to solicit subscriptions and receive money and before his work was completed, nearly $10,000 was in sight for the work. The committee was also empowered to formulate plans, and ascertain the cost of a new church. Each of these propositions were discussed at length pro and con, members expressing their views freely yet in a good spirit. Each proposition carried by a large majority, and then each were made unanimous. And thus the meeting closed with the best of feeling, and no little enthusiasm for the new church. The committee stepped into the work earnestly and spared neither time, expense or pains to accomplish the present satisfactory end. It is not out of place here to say that Rev. Rose, Loren Woodward and J. W. Usborne have been especially interested in this work and by their careful, painstaking work have accomplished much worthy of special mention. The plans for the new church, drawn by Rev. Rose, were presented to the official board in April, 1897, and were adopted. Architect R. C. Loos, of Philadelphia, took the plans as furnished by Rev. Rose and, for the sum of $100, drew the details and specifications. However, the working plans and the specifications were redrawn and rewritten by Rev. Rose. He also drew the plans and specifications for the heating, lighting, ventilation, etc. The building was laid off July 5, 1897 by the pastor and Mr. John Fluck, of Elgin, who had charge of the mason work. Mr. W. G. Wilcox, of Elgin, was the general contractor, and seating was by the Wabash Seating Co. of Indiana. Rev. Rose, assisted by the building committee, supervised the construction of the building. On July 11, 1897 the cornerstone was laid on the North West corner of the foundation. A tin box was placed in the cornerstone with due form and ceremony by Methodist Episcopal Bishop S. S. Merrill. The box contains: List of church members; names of those on the building committee; names of the pastor, presiding elder and bishop; brief history of the church; copies of the Northwestern Christian Advocate, Epworth Herald, Marengo News, Methodist Discipline; portraits of John Wesley, Charles Wesley, Bishop Merrill and Dr. F. A. Hardin, presiding elder; picture of the Old Stone Church, inside and out; American flag; list of surviving members who were present when the Old Stone Church was build; card of W.C.T.U.; names of architect and contractor.
New church building dedication Sunday, December 5, 1897, was the day set for dedication of the new church. When the day was set it seemed a little premature, there was much yet to be done. But Pastor Rose and his energetic assistants had their work forces well in hand and they worked like Trojans and succeeded admirably in completing all the essential details of "finishing up", so that when Saturday night rolled around they could say, "all things are ready." In the working forces were included the ladies, who toiled early and late to accomplish the part of the work assigned to them, and they failed in no respect whatever. Sunday dawned somewhat inauspiciously, with occasional spitting of snow, but before the hour set for services the clouds rolled away, the sun shone brightly, the weather was just moderately cold, and, in all, the day proved an ideal one at this season for its designated purpose. By the hour appointed, 10 o'clock, the auditorium, gallery and lecture room were filled to their fullest extent; chairs were placed in the aisles, which were soon filled, and many had "standing room only," during the entire service, which was concluded about 12:30. The program for the morning service was as follows: Opening Anthem, "How Beautiful," by the choir; Hymn, 'We Rear Not a Temple Like Judah's of Old," choir and congregation; Prayer, Bishop S. M. Merrill; Scripture, Bishop Merrill and Presiding Elder Hardin; Hymn, "Enter the Temple, Glorious King," choir and congregation. Dr. Curtis, of Cincinnati, then announced his text, 5th chapter 1st John, part of 4th verse: "This is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith." His theme was Faith, an essential element in all enterprises, whether of a spiritual or secular nature. Every battle-field won is won by faith; every enterprise has faith as its prime factor; the farmer in sowing his seed or plowing his ground, evidences his faith; faith in our fellowmen is the basis of success in temporal affairs; the location of a town or city, the establishing of business enterprises - the building of a factory, the starting of a bank, all these evidenced the faith of the projectors in the business they were about to engage and its ultimate success. Panics were the result of a lack of faith, the faith of each man in his fellowman and hence the hoarding of money, the scarcity of money as it is called, when in fact there is no scarcity, but a lack of faith in our fellowmen, or in the ability and stability of our country and its finances, keeps the money hoarded, does not perform its normal functions. The building of a church is an evidence that the people who build have faith in each other, in the community where they live, and above all faith in God, and hence, this beautiful, commodious house of worship is the answer of this faith. A new church is a great moral power in a community, and from a business point of view alone is a paying investment, and worthy of the support of every citizen. It is also a great educator, and lifts up and stimulates every good and worthy cause, and is a fair standard by which to judge of the culture and intelligence of the people, and of the enterprise of the locality or city where it is located. This beautiful temple erected for the worship of God and dedicated to his glory is an honor to the faith, the piety, the zeal, the enterprise of Marengo Methodists, and a great credit to the bright little city in which it is located. It gives an additional value to every home and every business house in the city, and it therefore has a legitimate claim on the whole community. The above only shows the general tenor of his remarks. He spoke without notes or manuscript, and earnest, and eloquent at times. The sermon was ingeniously planned, and in presenting it the preacher had earnest, careful attention, and by the time he concluded it seemed that about everybody in the audience concluded also to take an interest in the new church, if they had not already done so, or if they had, to take still larger interest. The report of the Building Committee was presented, showing the cost of the new edifice complete, including all expenditures, $12,400: that there had been paid in cash, and due on good subscription, $10,400, leaving a deficit of $2,000.
Dr. Curtis then asked the audience to raise this amount so the church might be dedicated free from all debt. He organized a corps of solicitors to pass through the audience to receive the offerings, and announce the same. In less than half hour the field was well gleaned, and the secretary reported that $2,178.50 had been pledged. The Dr. kept the audience in the best of good humor during the soliciting, and when the work was complete all rejoiced together, and felt that their faith in God and their fellowmen had not been misplaced. We are pleased to record that the Baptist and Presbyterian abandoned their services so their people might join in the rejoicing, and they were present in goodly numbers, and contributed generously in lifting the deficit, this again attesting their fellowship and good will. It is reported that, "Dr. Curtis made the people feel happy while they poured money into the Lord's treasury." The Board of Trustees then presented the new edifice free from debt for dedication, and Bishop Merrill proceeded to solemnly dedicate it to the service and worship of God, using the Disciplinary form, after which all joined in singing "Praise God From Which all Blessings Flow", and Bishop Merrill pronounced the benediction. After a season of congratulations and hand-shaking the audience dispersed in the best of spirits, all apparently feeling that "it was good to be there." Bishop Merrill preached to a large congregation Sunday afternoon. The sermon was one of great power and received the most careful attention. His thoughts were clothed in beautiful words, and his arguments were logical and conclusive. Rev. Dr. Hardin was announced to preach Sunday evening, but on consultation it was deemed best to give Dr. Curtis the "right of way" and see what could be done towards raising money for a pipe organ. As a result of this effort, $616 were pledged. It was stipulated that all the subscription should go first to pay off the indebtedness of the new church, and the balance should be the nucleus of a pipe organ fund. It was hoped that when all the subscriptions were paid in there would be a goodly sum for the organ fund, and that the said organ would be forthcoming - it would fill a very desirable place in the sanctuary. Dr. Butcher, of Palatine and Rev. Sunderlin, of Woodstock, also participated in the service. Following this, Dr. Hardin spoke for a short time and then Bishop Merrill made a few well-timed remarks and dismissed the congregation with the Apostolic benediction. The dayâ€™s work had been somewhat wearisome and the people dispersed to their homes conscious of having performed a pleasant duty in a successful and satisfactory manner. It is not often that a Bishop who lays the corner stone of an edifice is also privileged to dedicate the completed edifice. Their time is usually so much occupied and their duties so varied here and there, that they are not easily accessible. But in this case, Bishop Merrill laid the corner stone on July 27th, and dedicated the completed edifice on Dec. 5th, four months and nine days after. The general sentiment with reference to the new edifice, is: that it is simply ornate, attractive and commodious. The exterior is of Milwaukee brick, the architecture fine and imposing. The windows are of stained glass and of great beauty of design. The interior is finished from floor to ceiling in the best and latest style of church finishing, and in thoroughly solid and substantial manner, has electric lights, furnaces and modern appliances. The ornamental work is chaste and appropriate and while it cannot fail to please the eye, it is not so profuse as to offend the most fastidious. While the old church in its day was a fine structure, yet the beauty of this latter house vastly exceeds that of the former. That it may prove proportionately more glorious and a greater power for good in the community is a consummation most devoutly desired and which will be earnestly expected by the membership.
There was no mistake in the selection of the Building Committee. In all enterprises of this character the bulk of the work ultimately falls upon a few. It is not disparagement to the rest of the committee to say that Pastor Rose has labored early, late and zealously to build this church. Loren Woodward and J. W. Usborne have been active and energetic, sparing neither time, labor or expense in this work, besides contributing liberally of their means in the general fund. The success of the committee in the discharge of their duties is witnessed by the splendid edifice completed and dedicated to the service of God. At the time the new church building was dedicated in December, 1897 there were only a few members who were members at the time the Old Stone Church was dedicated in 1856. No one from the first class formed in 1837 were members in 1897, when the new church building was dedicated. Orson P. Rogers, one of the members of the first class and a member of the building committee for the Old Stone Church was still living, but no longer a member of the church. He, it is believed, was the only person still living from the original class.
Church bell? The church building has a beautiful bell tower, however there is no bell. Was there ever a bell? If there was, what happened to it? Some of the current longtime members of the church recall hearing this story surrounding the mystery: When the church was built no bell was installed. It was presumed the Marengo congregation would eventually get the bell from the Riley Methodist Church. They felt because the Riley church congregation was so small that it would soon close and they would join the Marengo Methodist Episcopal Church, thus the Marengo church would acquire the bell from the Riley church and it would be installed in the new bell tower. However, this never came about. One hundred years later the Riley United Methodist Church is still active and the Marengo United Methodist Church has no bell. Rev. Edward J. Rose obituary, May 22, 1947, Richmond newspaper: REV. EDWARD ROSE BURIED IN RICHMOND The body of the Rev. Edward J. Rose, 86, widely known Methodist clergyman and one time pastor of the Richmond Methodist church who died Thursday in Wesley Memorial hospital in Chicago is now resting at Richmond in the Richmond cemetery where it was placed Monday afternoon following funeral services which were conducted that same afternoon at two oâ€™clock in West Chicago Methodist Church. Born March 5, 1861, in Sayre, Ohio, he took his early schooling at Portersville, and educated himself to enter college. He attended Northwestern University and Garrett Biblical seminary and received his four year degree at Illinois Wesleyan. he also had Ph. D. and S. P. D. degrees for post graduate work. In 1930 he took his retired relationship continuing to serve as a guest preacher in other churches. He served as pastor of other churches for 47 years. His pastorates were at Richmond, Hebron, Genoa, Marengo, Capron, Chicago, West Chicago, Creston, Rockford, Rockton, Plano, Sterling, Naperville, Batavia, Lockport, Mount Sterling, Scales Mound, Blaine, Hanover and Prospect Hill. From 1932 to 1942 the Rev. Mr. Rose served as national president of the Methodist retired Ministers Assn., traveling extensively throughout the United States. He was on the board of examiners of the Rock River relations committee for many years. He is survived by his widow, Bertha Berryman Rose, whom he married Sept. 15, 1924. His first wife was Miss Ida Higgins, who was married to him in 1888 and who died in February 1923.
The Rev. Mr. Rose and his wife have made their home in West Chicago for 17 years. Their address is 503 Grand Lake Blvd.
New parsonage About 1900 a new brick parsonage, using similar brick and architecture of the new church, replaced the old wooden parsonage located just west of the new church. Rev. Wilmar Jaggard and his wife were the first to make it their home. That building still stands and is used as the pastors office, church secretary office on the first floor and Sunday School rooms on the second floor. Billy Sunday Revival In 1903, Billy Sunday, with his singer Fred Fisher, conducted revival meetings in the newly constructed lumber shed owned by the J. H. Patterson Co. These meetings, sponsored by the Protestant churches of Marengo, went on for approximately two weeks and as many as 1,200 people attended some of them. Many joined the church of their choice. Among those who came to the "Methodist fold" were J. W. Usborne, C. W. Prescott and Frank Johnson. Note: Sixty-four other people joined the Methodist church the same day as the aforementioned three men. Did all these join the church as a result of the Billie Sunday Revival? You may draw your own conclusion. Early societies During the years the societies of the church included the Junior League, Epworth League, Queen Esthers, Standard Bearers, Home and Foreign Missionary Societies, Ladies Aid and of course Sunday School. In connection with the above will be remembered Mr. and Mrs. Charles Gilkerson, W. S. Swonguer, J. W. Usborne, Niel Wilson, F. B. Steward (Clara), Lauren (Susan) Smith, Don Loomis (Nell), F. B. Johnson, C. W. Hill, Philip Hyde, Mr. and Mrs. C. H. Ocock and a long list of other consecrated workers. Mrs. Sydney Sears presented the Women's Society with two lovely engraved serving trays in memory of her sister, Mrs. Nell Loomis, a former president of the Society. Interesting personalities The weekly prayer meetings and camp meetings were found to be a source of strength and uplift were attended by both younger and older members. One who never seemed to fail to offer prayer when the opportunity was given was an elderly lady who lived near the church, Bethia Peck. She wore no bangs or ruffles, nor would she crimp her hair in the current fashion; preferring to comb it flat and smooth, parted in the middle, with a knot at the back of the neck. She wore a black bonnet and coat and could be seen walking slowly supported by an old broom. She had a prodigious store of Bible learning and her prayers often covered many subjects and often became so very, very long that others who wished to lead in supplication were denied an opportunity. Rev. W. H. Smith tried, diplomatically, to make Bethia understand this, but they could never see it eye to eye. The situation came to a crisis at a camp meeting being held in Cherry Valley. A score or more of the faithful had assembled and Brother Gilkerson, a large man with a beard, was a prayer leader in his own right, and probably more than once had his time encroached upon by Bethia Peck. It chanced that Brother Gilkerson was to lead this prayer service and that Bethia was present and prepared. It would be unfair to insinuate that the brother was inclined to take too literally the Apostle's words "Let the women keep silence in the churches; for it is not permitted unto them to speak." But he had been heard to repeat with considerable unction those words of the Master in the Temple at Jerusalem, "Beware of the scribes, which for a show make long prayers."
"Let's have the prayers brief this afternoon," said Brother Gilkerson; will Sister Peck lead us in the first short prayer?" Bethia tossed him a baleful glance from beneath her bonnet and lifted up her voice: "Oh Lord, bless Brother Gilkerson's stingy little soul. Amen." "Amen!" shouted Brother Gilkerson, in his joy at having brought about an all-time record for brevity in camp-meeting prayers -- with Bethia as his ally. Another interesting personality, Mr. Alfred Cady, a member of the church and a familiar figure on the streets of Marengo, could not see but used a cane to good advantage. He shingled his house alone, made brooms, and loved to sing familiar hymns. A player piano gave him much pleasure.
Fifty years as an independent church The following is from an article in the Marengo Republican News: Sunday, September 22, 1907, was made a memorable day in the history of the Marengo United Methodist Church, as it was the day the pastor and congregation celebrated the fiftieth anniversary of the time the church was designated a "Station" and became an independent church organization (1857-1907). It was made a special day of rejoicing and thanksgiving by wiping out all the indebtedness of the church, amounting to over $400. The people subscribed liberally for this purpose and were given a year in which to pay their pledges, but so delighted were they over its liquidation that they placed nearly the entire amount of cash in the hands of the officials for immediate payment of the debt. At the morning services the church was filled with a happy congregation. Rev. W. H. Smith, who was pastor twenty plus years ago, preached a most helpful sermon, full of spirit and enthusiasm, and the hearers went to their homes wondering if their former pastor was not like Moses, leader of the ancient Hebrews, whose "Eye was not dim, nor his natural forces abated." He also preached again in the evening and the listeners rejoiced in the good fortune to hear two inspiring sermons during the day and evening. At the morning service Rev. Schutz gave a brief history of the organization of the church to the present time and also read two congratulatory letters from former pastors, Rev. E. J. Rose and Rev. N. J. Harkness. At the afternoon meeting he read similar letters from Rev. George R. Richardson and Rev. Wilmer Jaggard. At the afternoon service members of the church were the speakers, Mrs. Wm. Benjamin spoke of the pastors; Thomas Gilkerson of the triumphs; and J. B. Babcock concerning the laymen. All of these speakers had been members of the church nearly fifty years, and being all that time active in the work of the church, were eminently qualified to tell of the pastors, the revivals, the triumphs and the membership of the Methodist Episcopal Church of Marengo. The spirit of rejoicing pervaded the entire services of the day, including not only the preaching services, but the Sunday School, Class meetings and Epworth League. Surely that day's meeting will not soon be forgotten by any who are anyway connected with the church. The music of the entire day was very appropriate, many were delighted to have Mrs. H. C. Shipman, of Mason City, Iowa, present at the afternoon service to sing a solo, with the same sweet voice, as she did for many years when a member of the Marengo church. The news article in the Marengo Republican concluded with the following: "May the same Hand which has guided the church during the first half of a century, still continue to guide the Marengo Methodist Episcopal Church, and the great influence for good it has already attained steadily grow until at the close of its centennial year it may be said that the Marengo Methodist Episcopal Church is a beacon light for uprightness and conferring a blessing upon the lives of all who come under its influence." Praise the Lord, that the Marengo United Methodist Church has continued to be guided by that same Hand, and may it continue for many centuries in the future.
The war years, WW I In 1918, during World War I, the church had stationary printed that was used by the members of the church when they wrote to the men serving in the military. All were encouraged to write letters to all those serving their country. Across the top of the page was "LOYALTY TO CHRIST AND THE FLAG." Down both sides and across the bottom were the names and addresses of those men from the church who were in service. Those listed were: Sgt. Louis T. Nickerson, Cpl. Clarence Anderson, Pvt. Arlie Shearer, Louis Ratfield, Cpl. Carl W. Joslyn, Pvt. S. Winn Hewitt, Pvt. Raymond M. Robinson, Pvt. Lawrence James, Pvt. Walter Lind, Cpl. Wernie Tyler, Cpl. Frank L. Shearer, Pvt. Elmer Chase, Pvt. Carey M. Bigelow, Pvt. Harry Barnes, Pvt. William Wilson, Pvt. Robert Hart Perkins, Pvt. Ralph Mallory, Pvt. Edward Lloyd, Pvt. Charles Bowers, Pvt. Frank Miller, Pvt. Harold Hyde, Pvt. Arthur Schultz, Pvt. Robert Johnson, Pvt. Leroy D. Wertz, Pvt. John C. Brotzman, Sgt. William L. Miller, Pvt. John M. Hammer, Pvt. Edward Ross Gardner, Pvt. Thomas Redpath, Pvt. Robert R. Shearer, Pvt. Cecil W. Brock, Floyd Watkins, Pvt. Horace Brotzman, Pvt. Harry Anderson, Pvt. Rozelle Stockwell, Pvt. Paul Stoxen, Pvt. Raymond Jordan, Pvt. Neill Wilson, Pvt. Ernest Nelson, Thomas N. Hance and Harold Shannon. A letter, that is in the church files, written on this stationary , appears to be from Mrs. Chase to her son, Pvt. Elmer H. Chase. (He is the only man on the list with a first name of Elmer) The letter, as written, is as follows:
July 15, 1918 Dear Son, I have not heard from you for a few days but suppose you have been busy. We are well and hope you are.. We got a good rain here yesterday the first rain we have had in weeks and will do a lot of good. I have not got time to write you a very long letter this time. The church had these printed and told us when we write to the boys to use them so you would have the boys address that have gone from our church. I think it was very kind for them to do this. We are ask to write to all of them but I am afraid I will not get very many written as I am a poor hand at writing letters but I will send you one anyway. It wont be long until harvest here now I guess Henry will have his hands full at that time he may have to buy a binder there is so much grain to cut here. He is afraid he will not get anyone to cut it. Well, Elmer, there is not very much to write about this time so I will close hoping this finds you well and that I will hear from you soon and hope the war will soon be over and you and all the rest can go home. Your loving mother 1920's Rev. Joscelyn reported to the congregation, in 1922, that he had a long interview with the management of the movie theater, and the rumor that there were going to be Sunday moving pictures is without foundation. Rev. Joscelyn said the new management gave him his word of honor that he does not intend, or has no thought of putting on Sunday movies at this time. The church board was prepared to go on record as opposed to showing movies on Sunday. The 1923 Christmas offering of nearly $100 was designated for the Japan earthquake fund. the 1923 earthquake in Japan nearly destroyed Tokyo and Yokohama. Once again showing the commitment of the Marengo Methodist to mission projects.
Renovations Several major renovations of the church building were completed in 1924. The old electrical system, which was deemed dangerous, was updated to prevailing technology and material. The sewer system, which had plagued the church for years, was completely redone. The old furnace was taken out and replaced with a new double boiler steam plant. For some time the pastor and congregation had realized the need for space to accommodate a place for the social life of the church. For several years the social life of the community had grown away from the church. This resulted in almost side tracking the church so far as young people were concerned. They felt it was time to separate the rooms of worship from the rooms of social activities. Top priority was an adequate kitchen, dining room and recreation room. It was finally decided it would be feasible, and cost effective, to use the basement for social purposes. The approval was given, and in 1924 Rev. R. N. Joscelyn led his people in constructing the recreation rooms for the church. This task was taken on by the congregation and entailed enlarging the basement. This was accomplished by digging out the dirt under the church, using hand tools and removing the dirt one bucket full at a time. Men, women and young people of the church worked long and hard to complete this very difficult job. Lawrence Perkins and Grace Maushak were among the young people who helped carry the buckets of dirt from the excavation. When completed this provided an excellent place for equipment for all the activities of the church, including modern kitchen, steam table, with an ample dining room for banquets, recreation, etc. Ku Klux Klan As reported in the Marengo Republican News: On May 14, 1925: The women of the Ku Klux Klan of Marengo held their meeting in the Marengo Methodist Episcopal Church recreation room. Mrs. Howard Tanner played the music for the program. An open air meeting was held at Dunker field, at West Grant Highway. Robed guards burning crosses and flares pointed the way to the field. Depression years Rev. E. J. Aikin, pastor of the church for six years from Nov. 1929 to Nov. 1935, was responsible for the leadership of the Marengo Methodist Episcopal congregation during very difficult times, the great depression that had devastated the economy of the country and the world. One out of four American workers were unemployed. Banks had failed, as a result people lost there life savings. The church struggled to have enough money to keep the doors open. Members of the congregation quit attending church services because they had no money to put in the collection plate. Rev. Aikin wrote in his report to the fourth quarterly conference, in September, 1933: "Some of our people, because they could not pay, felt they must absent themselves from the services. This false feeling has caused us much worry and embarrassment and loss of spiritual life that rightfully belongs to these people who need more than ever the consolation of the church." The Board of Trustees sold a small strip of land in back of the church in order to have money to pay obligations of the church. The Riley Methodist Church closed the first three months of 1933 because they had no money to buy coal to heat their building. However, the church was able to overcome this difficult period in it's history, and continued to serve the community well, as it does today and will continue to do long into the future. A religious canvas of Marengo and community was made in 1931 under the direction of the Ripley Extension Campaign Service. The Methodist church bore all of the financial burden of the campaign and did most of the work connected with it. The results were quite satisfactory in the listing of several families on our constituency roll and finding the church preference of most of the people in the community. A few united with the church as a result of the follow up after the campaign.
The Keystone Class of the Sunday School presented 50 new hymnals to the church and had 35 old ones rebound. The choir director, Mr. H. W. Thompson, presented new hymnals to the choir members. Mrs. Aikin, wife of Rev. E. J. Aikin, died in May of 1931. Rev. Aikin noted in his report to the Fourth Quarterly Conference, "The year has been one of terrific strain. In the passing of Mrs. Aikin the church and pastor have suffered a great loss. The sympathy and kindness of the people of this church and community in that trying ordeal will always be a sacred memory to the pastor and family." Mrs. Aikin's sister, Harriett, became the gracious lady of the parsonage in August 1932. Centennial celebration In preparation for the centennial celebration of the founding of the church (1837-1937), the plaster was repaired in the sanctuary and completely repainted, the lecture room, class room and the hall were all renovated and painted. The plaster work was done by local tradesman and the painting was done by G. H. Schanbacher & Son of Springfield. Total cost of the project was over $900, $795 for the painting and over $100 for the plaster repair. One hundred years of Methodism in Marengo was celebrated during the week of August 22 - 29, 1937, led by Rev. Henry Porter Barnes, Pastor of the Marengo Methodist Episcopal Church, his wife and a willing committee. They planned and successfully carried out a great program of events during the week. The program for the week was: Sunday, 22nd: - 9:45 AM, Sunday School: A service of remembrance of former officers and teachers - 11:00 AM, Sermon by Dr. R. L. Semans, D.S. - 4:00 PM, Vesper Service, in charge of young people Monday, 23rd: - A service of remembrance for former pastors, officials, etc. "Who have finished their course" - Reminiscences: H. Gilkerson and others Tuesday, 24th: - Recognition service for former pastors, wives, families. We expect several of these to be present and speak. - Greetings: Revs. E. J. Rose, W. H. Tope, R. N. Joscelyn, M. S. Freeman, E. J. Aikin and others. Wednesday, 25th - Church Night: The pastor presiding with local and neighboring pastors speaking. - Greetings of the local churches: Rev. J. Stewart Brown - Greetings for the McHenry County Ministerial Association: Rev. W. J. DuBourdieu, President. Thursday, 26th - Community Night: Mayor Miller presiding. Fraternal greetings from civic organizations active in the community life. Friday, 27 - Methodist Pageant: The Women's Association, Missionary Society, Epworth League, Choir and Sunday School participating. Sunday, 29th
- 9:45 AM, Sunday School -11:00AM, Centennial Sermon: Dr. Charles K. Carpenter, former District Superintendent. - 4:00PM, Musical Vespers, the choirs. One hundred people participated in the Friday night pageant, it consisted of eleven episodes written and directed by Mrs. Barnes. It included: First Circuit Rider, Early Class Meeting. An Early Sunday School, Home and Foreign Missionary Societies, Official Board Meeting, 1907 Jubilee, Ladies Aid, Epworth League, Stirring Days of World War I, Young People of Today and Methodism as She Faces the New Century. The climax was reached on Sunday with the former District Superintendent, Dr. C. H. Carpenter of Morgan Park, preaching the Centennial Sermon at the 11:00AM service and the Centennial Choir, under the direction of H. W. Thompson, presenting Musical Vespers with a purpose of worship, service and goodwill. The church officials and leaders in 1937, the centennial anniversary year, were: • Trustees: Charles Higbee, chairman; A. E. Thompson, treasurer; Charles Stokes, secretary; Arthur Kraft, Thomas Dimon, Clarence Ocock, Louis Stoxen, Arthur Anderson and A. E. Shearer, members. • Stewards: Charles Stokes, Robert Hagg, T. A. Ocock, Mr. and Mrs. G. C. Kitchen, Clifford Kitchen, Mrs. Thomas Dimon, Ray Hand, Wendell Swonguer, Roy Thomas, Lawrence Perkins, George Warden, Harold Feiertag, George Anderson, Nellie Loomis, Mabel Peck, Annis Swonguer, Mrs.Charles Higbee, H. W. Thompson, Mrs. Agnes West and Mrs. Arthur Fritz. • President of Methodist Women's Association: Mrs. Vivia Poyer. • President of Woman's Home Missionary Society: Mrs. Stella Philley. • President of Woman's Foreign Missionary Society: Mrs. Nettie Barnes. • Sunday School Superintendent: Phillip Hyde. • Epworth League President: Robert Driver, Jr. • Pastoral Relations and Pulpit Supply: A. E. Thompson, Mrs. Mabel Kitchen, Clyde Coarson, C. H. Ocock and Arthur Kraft. • Auditors: Charles Higbee, Thomas Dimon, Clyde Coarson. • Church Records and Membership: A. E. Thompson, Charles Higbee, Thomas Dimon and Ollie Nelson. • Custodian of Church Papers: Charles Higbee. • Parsonage: Mrs. Jessie Jobe, Mrs. Robert Hagg, Mrs. Charles Stokes, Mrs. Grant Anthony. • Religious Education: Phillip Hyde, Mrs. Mabel Kitchen and Mary Payne. • Benevolence: Mrs. C. H. Ocock, Mrs. W. C. Brey and Mrs. A. Anderson. • Hospitals: Mrs. Don Peck, Mrs. Hazel Kitchen and Mrs. Roy Thomas. • Janitor and Repairs: Charles Higbee, A. E. Thompson, Phillip Hyde, Lawrence Perkins. • Nominating Committee: A. E. Thompson, Phillip Hyde and Lawrence Perkins. • Ushers: Elwyn Ocock, Ray Hand, Phillip Hyde and Edward Ward. • Trier of Appeals: Ralph Curtiss. • Epworth Campground: Mrs. Nellie Loomis. Renovations During the pastorate of W. E. Lamson, in 1947, it was decided to remodel the front of the sanctuary in preparation for the Golden Anniversary of the present church building (1897-1947). The alter, with its cross and candles, took the place of the former organ console which was modernized into a remote, electrically controlled console and placed to the north of the divided chancel. Necessarily the communion railing was also divided and the platform slightly narrowed. The new improvement was dedicated at the Golden Anniversary celebration on April 27, 1947. A
brief history of the church and organ was given by Charles Gilkerson. Harold J. Feiertag, lay leader, presented the organ for dedication and Ray Schneider, building chairman, the divided chancel and choir loft. The dedication ritual for the organ was used, led by the Rev. W. E. Lampson. New name, Methodist Church After much effort, three of the major Methodist bodies in the U.S., namely, the Methodist Episcopal Church, the Methodist Protestant Church, and the Methodist Episcopal Church, South, united in 1939 to form the Methodist Church. 1950's During the pastorate of Rev. Earl A. Olson the wiring of the upper floor was made modern, inset reflector lights were installed in the ceiling of the sanctuary and the sanctuary painted. Rev. Olson used the west room of the second floor of the church for his office and study. It afforded spacious office space for the editing of the monthly church paper, called the "Marengo Methodist", prepared by Rev. Olson and his reporters. Rev. D. L. Taylor was appointed to serve the Marengo and Riley Methodist churches in July, 1952. Shortly after he, his wife and three children arrived from Chicago the parsonage was redecorated. Rev. Taylor continued to use the west room on the second floor of the church as his study, as Rev. Olson had done during his six years as pastor. The church paper was discontinued, replaced by occasional newsletters sent out by pastor Taylor. Early 1955 a conversion oil burner with a 275 gallon oil tank was installed in the parsonage to upgrade the old coal burning system. When Rev. L. Harold George was assigned to the Marengo church in July, 1955, it was evident that much work was necessary inside and outside of the parsonage and the church, especially the exteriors. The improvements at the church and parsonage during 1955, mostly done by volunteers, both men and women, were: Complete decoration of the parsonage, three new floor coverings, modernization of the kitchen, electric wiring updated, back stairway plastered, all openings caulked and puttied, trim of both church and parsonage painted, new back steps at parsonage, new combination storm/screen door installed on back door of parsonage, seven new storm windows on parsonage, a door was installed between the front hallway and the small front room of the parsonage and book shelves built in this small room. The long hoped for insulation of the sanctuary ceiling, as well as that of the parsonage, was accomplished by twenty men in two evenings. A new pulpit to match the lectern was presented anonymously, thirteen new storm windows were installed on the church. Also tuck pointing was done, eroded spots in the masonry corrected, and tarring of bad places on the roof accomplished. One hundred steel chairs were purchased for use in the recreation room in the basement. In December, 1956 a new boiler with an oil burner was installed to replace the old furnace and coal stoker and a 1000 gallon oil storage tank was installed. The cost of the boiler, burner and tank was $2,580. Throughout the history of the Marengo Methodist Church the pastor assigned to Marengo also had the responsibility of the Riley Methodist Church. During the 1956 Conference the decision was made to make Marengo a one charge appointment and a minister be assigned to Riley, but because of the small size of the congregation it has been difficult for them to support such an arrangement, therefore, periodically the Marengo pastor must also undertake responsibility for them. However, in spite of their size, the Riley church has, and continues to be, a strong spiritual influence in their area.
In 1957 all stained glass windows were repaired and plastic covering installed on the outside to protect these beautiful, priceless windows from damage due to storms, vandalism, etc. A new roof was put on the church building and the parsonage in 1958. Washington St. Council of Churches Deserving of special mention is the Christian fellowship and cooperation among the Washington Street churches, the Baptist, Methodist and Presbyterian, which has become a tradition. In 1958 this arrangement was formalized by the organization of the Washington Street Council of Churches, composed of pastors and lay representatives from the three denominations. They meet on a regular basis to plan union services for special occasions, such as Thanksgiving, Lent, Good Friday, Vacation Church School, Reformation Sunday, School of Missions, World Day of Prayer, Unicef projects, etc. 1960 Renovations During 1960 the pews were removed from the sanctuary, all new plywood floor was laid, tile put down and pews reinstalled, all by volunteer labor. New radiator covers were installed and new carpeting laid in the sanctuary and narthex. New name, United Methodist Church The Evangelical United Brethren Church came into existence in 1946 through the merger of the Church of the United Brethren in Christ and the Evangelical Church. Both denominations were products of religious revival among the German-speaking populations of Pennsylvania and Maryland at the turn of the 19th century. The Church of the United Brethren in Christ arose in 1800 through the efforts of Philip Otterbein of the German Reformed Church, and Martin Boehm, a Mennonite bishop. The organization that later became the Evangelical Church was begun by Jacob Albright in 1807. His followers adopted the names Evangelical Association in 1816 and Evangelical Church in 1922. Albright, Otterbein, and Boehm were close associates of Francis Asbury, the founder of American Methodism. With him, these leaders shared a commitment to the Armenian theology of grace, pietistic spirituality, and Episcopal church organization. Only the language barrier prevented their followers from becoming Methodists. In 1968, the Evangelical United Brethren Church (numbering about 750,000 members in nearly 4,300 churches) finally joined with the Methodists to establish the United Methodist Church. New parsonage In the fall of 1969 a house at 302 N. State St. was purchased to be used as a parsonage. After renovation, Rev. Harry Miller and family were the first to live in the new parsonage. The old parsonage was put to good use as offices for the pastor and secretary, meeting room, Sunday School rooms. Lay Witness Missions A very successful Lay Witness Mission was held at the church September 27-29, 1974. It was more than just a program, it was a weekend happening in which a team of laymen came to the church to share their faith in Christ. An experience that was not soon forgotten by members of the Marengo United Methodist Church and many other Christians in the community. A full schedule of events, including congregational services, pot-luck meals, small group meetings, coffee groups held in individual homes, were planned for the weekend, starting on Thursday night with a 24 hour Prayer Vigil and ending Sunday afternoon. Through out the weekend there were many opportunities for the visiting laymen to speak personally to many in one to one encounters. Who were these witnesses? They were ordinary people who have encountered the living Christ. They were men, women and youth. They were not perfect people or saintly people, but people who had been awakened by God to the thrilling possibility of living all of life in Christ. They had
been changed in some important ways, but they were still being changed by the daily experience of the love and power of Christ. They were growing Christians who were learning how to witness, how to pray, how to find ministry and meaning in small groups, and how to put their faith to work in the vital issues of life. They came with an attitude of love and acceptance and witnessed by listening as well as speaking. They did not come to give answers, but to share honestly, in a gracious and positive way, what God had done, and was doing in their lives. They shared more than "success" stories, they shared honestly of struggles and heartaches as well as victories and joys. Many participating in the weekend were awakened to a new and vital faith, some made a new commitment to Christ, and a least four bible study groups were organized. Most went from the weekend with a wonderful feeling and a closer relationship with the Lord. Committee chairpersons for the Lay Witness Mission were: • Coordinators: Robert and Beverly Marsden • General Chairpersons: LeRoy & Virginia Merritt, Charles & Judy Andrews and LaVerne & Betty Loudenbeck • Housing: Harold & Betty Feirtag and Lyle & Wilma Miller • Visitation: Dale & Janet Osborne and Emil & Mary Jo Olbrich • Coffee Hostesses: Joan Cowan and Patricia Burnside • Food: Francis & Margaret Pace and Marion Works • Attendance: LaVern & Betty Loudenbeck and Charles Andrews • Welcome & Transportation: Roy & Vera Thomas and Arlie & Lillian Shearer • Prayer: Jerry & Edie Darling • Publicity: Bruce Muench and LeRoy Merritt • Literature: Virginia Merritt and Dorothy Muench • Correspondence: Judy Andrews • Nursery: Women from First Baptist Church • Children: Marg Gober • Youth: Gladys Sandman, Gail Gober and Sue Sandman • Number of people involved: 80 others hosting coffees, housing the mission team or helping in many other ways A second Lay Witness Mission was held September 12-15, 1985. The program was basically the same and the results were as remarkable as the first LWM in 1974. Committee Chairpersons and leaders were: • Coordinators: Kenny and Pat Crawford • General Chairpersons: Charles Andrews and Bruce Muench • Visitation: Charles Andrews and Membership & Evangelism Committee • Coffee Hostesses: Ray & Angie Richardson and Janice Perkins • Food: Dave & Carol Johnson • Attendance, Welcome and Transportation: Bruce & Dorothy Muench and Norm & Lois Campbell • Prayer: Don & Dottie Dexheimer • Publicity: Darrell Knisley • Correspondence: Judith Andrews • Nursery: Lisa Kirchhof • Children: Bruce & Janet Cowan • Youth: Stan & Jane McDonald Mission's Laotion refugees
In 1975 when the Communist forces gained control of Laos, the king was forced to abdicate, and Laos became a Communist people's republic. Since 1975 an estimated 400,000 refugees, including most of the educated, wealthy elite and many tribes people from the hills, left the country, escaping to Thailand, because they feared they would killed if the remained. The Thais could not take care of so many refugees, so through the World Service, were looking for sponsors in the United States and other countries to take in these people. In 1976 the Marengo United Methodist Church, through the efforts of the Mission Committee, working through the United Methodist Committee for Relief, via the Division of Overseas Ministries, Church World Service Department, arranged to sponsor a refugee family of five and another couple. It was an excited, enthusiastic, but apprehensive, congregation that met these Laotian refugees when they arrived in Marengo in April, 1976. Their arrival was immediately reported to Church World Service. The Laotian couple went with their sponsor family, Emil and Mary Jo Olbrich, and lived for a while in a small house on Emil and Mary Jo's farm north of town. They soon became self sufficient and moved to a house they rented. Their subsequent moves and situations are unknown. The family: Thongdy Bounnharaj, father (age 32); Sinhsack, wife and mother (age 25); Southida (Sue), oldest daughter (age 7); Vatthana (Tom), son (age 5 1/2); Phatsara (Baby Oh), youngest daughter (age 14 months), came by air to O'Hare Field, Chicago, where Bruce and Dorothy Muench met them and took them to their home in rural Marengo. All except for the baby were somewhat emaciated. Thongdy had been an officer in the Royal Laotian Army and Sinhsack's father was mayor of a town in Laos. Prior to coming to the United States they had spent eleven months in a Thai refugee camp. They had very few personal items with them when the arrived, members of the church contributed money so they could buy clothing. They wanted very much to be independent and make their own way in this, their new country. After staying with the Muenchs for a little over a month, they moved into the old church parsonage, which at the time was vacant after Rev. Harry Miller and family moved into the new parsonage on North State Street. They lived in the parsonage for a few months until they rented a house on West Grant Highway at the edge of town. During the first several months after arriving in Marengo, Thongdy worked for Getzelman's, a manufacturer of musical instruments, located in Marengo. Later, Thongdy went to work for a petroleum company on the southeast side of Chicago and they moved to Indiana to be closer to his work. Sinhsack brought her parents from Laos, but her mother died shortly after they arrived. They became U. S. citizens as soon as possible, a tribute to the Marengo Methodist Church congregation and Bruce and Dorothy Muench who opened their home to them and helped them adapt to their new country and culture. 140th anniversary Many members of the Marengo United Methodist Church joined together on Sunday, November 6, 1977, to make the 140th anniversary (1837-1977) of the founding of the church a memorable occasion. A full sanctuary greeted the Rev. Harry Miller as he conducted the Sunday morning worship service for which Rev. Robert Schumm, Elgin District Superintendent, was quest speaker. His sermon topic was "Horizons for the Church." Special music was provided by the choirs under the direction of Ed and Nancy Richard. Jimmie Girkin and Darrell Loudenbeck served as acolytes. Flowers were given in memory of: Mr. and Mrs. Byron F. Hyde and Phil Hyde by their family; in memory of Mr. and Mrs. George Perkins and Jackie Perkins by the Lawrence Perkins family; by Ben Hanson; by Mrs. Sidney Sears; by Mrs. Ida Carmack Sparling of Boiling Springs, Pa.; by the City of Marengo; by the Senior Citizens of Marengo; and by the Beacon News.
Following the ham dinner, prepared and served by Joe and Ethel Lewis for 200 people, the sanctuary was again filled for the Anniversary Service. Rev. Harry Miller, pastor of the Marengo church, welcomed all there and James Cowan, Mayor of Marengo, greeted the large group of people. With Jill Lewis as narrator, a dramatic presentation, "Reflections of Marengo Methodism", under the direction of Judy Andrews and Martha Perkins, was given in a series of three scenes; : Scene I - A gathering of early Methodist in a private home during the year 1837, Scene II - Trustees hearing an argument between two members of the congregation, Scene III - A couple of the members of the congregation meeting together after the church building dedication service, 1897. Those who participated in the presentation were: Charles Andrews, Don Hildebrand, LaVerne Loudenbeck, Randy Mapes, LeRoy Merritt, Bruce Muench, Mary Jo Olbrich, Bob Rucker, Bob Siegel and Gladys Sandman. Greetings were read from many former members unable to attend, including: Rev. and Mrs. Harold George of Grant Pass, OR; Mrs. Ida Carmack Sparling of Boiling Springs, PA; Mrs. Alice Johnson Parker of Lancaster, PA; Monte Jones of Westfield, IN; Christine Sherwin of Las Vegas, NV; Marilyn Goldring Rigterink of Rockville, MD; and Thorlief Larson of Tucson, AZ. Many old artifacts from the history of the church were arranged by the Anniversary Committee consisting of: Judy Andrews, Betty Feiertag, Margaret Girkin, Don Hildebrand, Hazel Kitchen, Jill Lewis, Martha Perkins and Mary Richardson. Others who assisted in the day's events were: Mrs. Grace Maushak, Margaret Echternach, Emma Stokes, Gaye Anderson, Betty Struckmeier, Harold Feiertag, Darrell Knisley, Elsie Hildebrand, Clifford Kitchen, and Lawrence Perkins. The following letter, written to Betty Feiertag in response to an invitation to attend the 140th anniversary, is included in the history of the church because it exemplifies what the church is about and what it has meant to individuals who have been apart of this congregation:
Dear Betty and friends, I received your letter from my parents and wanted to add my good wishes and thanks to a church which played a most important part in my life and the life of many of my friends. I remember so many good times and loving Christian people. Suzy Smith and Emily Lampson guided our Youth Fellowship with such loving care. Rev. Lampson's sense of humor and great courage in the face of his illness were inspiring. Harold Feiertag's Sunday School lesson, "never marry someone to reform them" and other wisdom's have stayed with me. (I have a wonderful husband who needs no reformation! Thanks Harold!) And the choir, Francis Fardig was one of the best directors I've ever known. Thanks to him, I'm still singing in the church choir. I'm now an Episcopalian, but have a soft spot in my heart for the good old Methodist. I could go on for pages and pages - My regards to all Page 36
who remember me. The church is people and because of people like you, it will endure for another 140 years! Lovingly, Marilyn Goldring Rigterink Mission project, Lowell and Claudia Wirtz During the 1970 and 80s the church sponsored Lowell and Claudia Wirtz who where missionaries in Zaire, Africa. This missionary project was supported by monies from the general fund and many special projects. One of the more notable support efforts was by the Sunday School. After hearing from Lowell and Claudia that they needed money to build a medical clinic, the Sunday School sent them all the birthday money they received for several months, about $15.00 a month. They also gave each student a cardboard box (bank) that represented a brick to build the clinic. After several weeks they collected the boxes and forwarded all the money to the Wirtz's to be used for the clinic. When the building project was completed, Lowell and Claudia named it the "Marengo Medical Clinic." Board recognition January 11, 1978, the Official Board passed the following resolution: Whereas Jean Osborne has served this church as financial secretary for more than twenty-five years of exceptional service, having counted all monies, deposited and duly recorded same, and having sent out individual quarterly statements, as well as keeping and delivering complete financial records to the church treasurer, and having done all this in a truly dedicated and unassuming manner, be it therefore resolved, that she be recognized before God and this congregation as one who has freely given of herself in service to Him and to this church, and that this resolution be duly recorded in the minutes of the Official Board. Passed this day by members of the Official Board of the Marengo United Methodist Church. Pictoral church directory The first pictoral church directory was produced in 1979 during the pastorate of Rev. Ralph Wilson. A large percentage of the church members participated by coming to the church to have their picture taken for inclusion in the directory. The directory, with member's pictures, was well received and new directories have been produced about every five years. 1980's The 200th Anniversary of Sunday School, first started by the British religious leader, Robert Raikesis, Cloucester, England in 1780, was celebrated at the Marengo United Methodist Church on October 5, 1980. Everyone attending the celebration was asked to dress in period clothing of the 18th century. The celebration started with a sing-a-long and then skits were performed by members of the church who were dressed in period clothing. Mr. Mustache, a TV personality, entertained with his picture drawing and stories. The celebration ended with a hugh balloon launch from the parking lot just north of the church building. Over 200 people were in attendance. All the pews in the church sanctuary were completely renovated in 1980. During 1982 large speakers for the electronic chimes were installed in the bell tower and the control panel placed in the meeting room adjacent to the church narthex. In 1984 an eternal light was placed on the east wall of the sanctuary just to the left of the pulpit. During 1985-86 the church building was made accessible to the handicapped by the building of a
wheelchair ramp leading to the south sanctuary entrance and the installation of a chair-lift from the north-east basement entrance to the basement level. A new roof was put on the church and the annex in 1986. Charismatic Movement A charismatic movement which began in the 1960's in California with a group of Episcopalians, soon arose within the Baptist, Lutheran, Methodist, Presbyterian and other Protestant denominations through out the country. The individuals who made up the movement believe that they had been "filled" or "baptized" with the Holy Spirit through the laying on of hands. They believed the signs of this baptism included such spiritual gifts as speaking in tongues, prophecy, healing, and interpretation of tongues. This movement surfaced in the Marengo United Methodist Church in the early 1980's and in 1982 approximately 27 very active and supporting members, including the pastor, Rev. Ralph Wilson, left the Methodist church to start their own charismatic church. Pulpit exchange For the first five months of 1986 Marengo Methodist pastor, Ralph Smith, participated in a pulpit exchange with Rev. Edgar Hornblow, pastor of a New Zealand Methodist church. It was an exciting, rewarding experience for the pastors and the congregations. It took a few weeks for the Marengo congregation to get used to Rev. Hornblow's New Zealand accent, but only a very short time to embrace him as their pastor. During Rev. Smiths tenure, his wife, Evelyn, was instrumental in securing bells and forming the adult and children's bell choirs. 150th Anniversary celebration The 150th anniversary (1837-1987) of the founding of the Marengo United Methodist church was held September 12th and 13th, 1987. Saturday evening the Circuit Rider, Rev. Cecil Dallas, arrived, a dinner was enjoyed by all, followed by an old-fashion evangelistic camp meeting, song service led by the Circuit Rider preacher. Sunday morning service was led by Rev. Dallas and the sermon given by Rev. Ermalou Roller, Elgin District Superintendent. The Sesquicentennial Service was held a 3:00PM Sunday afternoon. The people in attendance were welcomed by Charles Andrews, local Lay Leader. The service was led by Rev. Dallas and the sermon was given by previous pastor, Rev. Harry Miller. Following is the Prayer of Thanksgiving which was led by Rev. Dallas and deserves a place in this history of the church: Leader: We celebrate the Sesquicentennial of the Marengo United Methodist Church, O God! Unto You we give the glory that we have been able to proclaim the gospel these many years. We give you thanks for your steadfast love. We give you thanks for creating us, sustaining us, and redeeming us, and the unending expressions of your love for us in the life, death and resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ, and the promise of eternal life in Him. People: Therefore with all the people of God we praise and worship You saying: Holy, Gracious, infinite God, Lord of all history, all of your creation is full of your glory. Glory and adoration we give to You, O Lord most high. Leader: We honor the faithful pastors and people who first brought your message to this place and established this church. Let us not forget them. By their energies this church was gathered,
given order, built up, and continued. We remember how they passed on the heritage of faith, celebrated your love in word and sacrament, invited many into the fellowship of Jesus Christ, and called them to see and serve you in their neighbor. People: Save us, O God, from living in the past, and from resting on the work of others. Help us find a new beginning and a new vision, that we may know our task in this place and this world today. AMEN A message from Pastor Dallas September, 1987 "The spirit of rejoicing pervaded the entire service of the day, including not only the preaching service but the Sunday School, class-meetings, and Epworth League. Surly this day's meetings will not soon be forgotten by any who are any way connected with the church." These words appeared in the Marengo Republican describing an event which occurred here on September 22, 1907, eighty years ago. Today we gather in this house to worship, which on the day it was dedicated was called "the most beautiful in this part of the country", to celebrate a ministry of 150 years. This ministry has been enhanced by the work of fifty-nine preachers and thousands of dedicated lay persons. We truly are part of an endless line of splendor. As we recall our history and rejoice in our calling, may we be bound together by the same love that brought together those who formed the first Class-meeting in the Marengo area. May God's spirit lead us into a renewed commitment to walk not only in the steps of our Master but in the foot-prints of all those who have gone before us. Shalom; Cecil J. Dallas, Pastor In 1987 the Marengo United Methodist Church officials and leaders were: • Pastor: Rev. Cecil J. Dallas • Lay Leader: Charles Andrews • Lay Delegate to Annual Conference: Marjorie Gober • Finance Committee: Stanley McDonald, chairperson; Charles Andrews, LeRoy Merritt, Janice Perkins, Richard Anderson, Marjorie Gober, Kim Pollnow, members • Church Treasurer: Janice Perkins • Financial Secretary: Kim Polnow • Pastor-Parish Committee: Peter Perkins, chairperson; Edie Darling, Marjorie Gober, Doris Mulasmajic, Bill Kays, Gary Stoklosa, Peter Perkins, Elmer Hill, Veneta Sherrill, Margaret Echternach, members • Administrative Council: Judy Garman, chairperson; Al Hicks, Stanley McDonald, Mary Jo Olbrich, Clara Piper, Bruce Muench, members at large • Interchurch Council Members: Francis and Margaret Pace • Education Committee Chairperson: Cyndie Muench • Missions Committee Chairperson: Dorothy Muench • Recording Secretary: Hazel Buehler • Sunday School Superintendent: Carol Johnson • Worship Committee: Cecil Dallas, Sandra Hicks, Janet Cowan, Angela Richardson, Robert Siegel, Donna Immega • Board of Trustees: Conrad Schott, chairperson; Norman Campbell, Dr. Charles Lockwood, Richard Anderson, Tom Kirchhoff, Marjorie Gober, Ethel Lewis, David Johnson, Judy Garman, members
United Methodist Women: Margaret Pace, president
Miracle Sunday February 18, 1990 was truly a "Miracle Sunday". The bricks on the church and parsonage were in need of tuck-pointing and the bell tower was in need of extensive repair, the cost, $30,000+. The trustees and finance committee, under the leadership of Rev. Cecil Dallas, decided to try and raise the necessary money on one Sunday, during the morning worship service. As Miracle Sunday approached the members of the congregation had many mixed feelings about the outcome of such an undertaking; skepticism, positiveness, fear of a failure, confidence of success, and just plain impossible, but praying for success. During the worship service on the appointed Sunday, cash, checks, and pledges were collected and a committee appointed to immediately recap the results. Before the end of the service the committee came back to the sanctuary and announced, while the congregation held their collective breath, that over $34,000 was collected or pledged, with a very large part of the total being collected that day. After hearing the results the congregation was ecstatic , truly a "Miracle Sunday". A joy to celebrate In July 1992 the Marengo United Methodist Church congregation greeted their first female pastor in their 155 year history, Rev. Joy Slack. She was a 1987 graduate of Garrett Evangelical Theological Seminary in Evanston, Illinois and had served as assistant pastor of the Belvidere United Methodist church since graduation. With some anxiety on the part of both the congregation and Rev. Slack, she completed her first Sunday service. Immediately the congregation knew that Rev. Slack had been appropriately named, they indeed had a "Joy" to celebrate. The Radio Ministry; the semi-monthly newsletter, "The Mustard Seed"; two Sunday morning worship services, one contemporary the other traditional; and Recognition Sundays, when teachers, the Rescue Squad, policemen, firemen, government workers, medical professionals, etc. were recognized for their endeavors at Sunday services , were some of the innovations initiated by Rev. Slack. On November 9, 1996, Rev. Slack was united in marriage to Stephen Starwalt, a member of the congregation. The whole congregation was invited to the wedding and many were there to share that important time with them. A quilt, with each square identifying a church family, was presented to Stephen and Joy at the wedding shower held October 20th, hosted by the Worship and Wedding Committee's. The squares were designed and completed by each of the families who participated. 100th Anniversary of the church building, 1897-1997 Several events to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the church building were planned and accomplished during 1997. It was a joyous year, filled with activity, for the congregation, and a fitting tribute to the beautiful building and to those dedicated Methodist who, 100 years ago, had the foresight, determination and perseverance to build a new building to provide a place of worship for many future generations. â€˘ The centennial committee arranged to have three mementos of the occasion for sale to members and the public; a red Christmas tree ornament adorned with a picture of the church, a cook book containing member's favorite recipes, and decorated slates that had been removed from the church bell tower during extensive repair of the tower roof. The slates were the original bell tower roof installed in 1897 when the church was built and because of serious water leaks
were replaced by a copper roof in 1997. The roof slates were prepared for painting and hanging by several volunteers and beautiful scenes, objects, sayings, etc. were painted on the slates by members of congregation under the direction of church member and artist, Sue Guallilo. A very special painting of the church building was done exclusively by Sue, and were sold for $100 each. • Sunday through Tuesday, March 2nd, 3rd, and 4th, the Rev. Norval Ignatius Brown from Gammon Memorial United Methodist Church in Chicago, came to lead the Spiritual Renewal days. The three day theme was "Lord, Make Me Acceptable to You." At the two Sunday morning worship services Rev. Brown's message was, "Acceptable Words and Meditations." Each evening service began with a hymn sing which shook the rafters with many of the old favorite songs. Sunday evening, preceding a potluck dinner held in the church basement, Rev. Brown preached on, "An Acceptable Mind." A trio from his church came to provide the special music, and special it was! Monday evening, after meeting with the Confirmation class joined by others in the area, Rev. Brown's message was, "An Acceptable Body." Stephanie Keenun, a member of the Marengo congregation, supplied the special music, including the debut of her own songs. This was an added gift for all those in attendance. To conclude on Tuesday evening, Rev. Brown preached, "An Acceptable Spirit." The church choir sang a favorite spiritual, "I've Got A Robe." An altar call was offered and many came forward for prayers of healing and recommitment. All services were well attended: Sunday morning 165; Sunday evening 120; Monday evening 100; Tuesday evening 80. • Sunday, April 27, a men's quartet, "Higher Ground" from the Mattoon, Illinois area, came for the morning worship services and an evening service after a potluck dinner in the basement dining room. Their program had the congregation's toes tapping and faces smiling. The evening service included not only their music but their testimonies. Those in attendance were overwhelmed with joy and their eyes filled with tears of grace. All departed with a great feeling of well-being. • Opening of the cornerstone: On July 11, 1897 the cornerstone was laid on the North West corner of the foundation of the new Marengo Methodist Church building, in this corner- stone was placed, according to an article in the Marengo newspaper, a tin box with several articles, such as, an American flag, church discipline, pictures of the old church, list of members, list of officers, newspaper articles, etc. On Rally Day, Sept. 7, 1997, as part of the 100th anniversary of the church building, with great anticipation of approximately 100 people, the cornerstone was opened to reveal to all in attendance the contents that had been placed there one hundred years ago by those faithful Methodist who built this church so future generations of Methodist, would have a beautiful place to worship. What an exciting moment, they would be able to see and touch those things left to them one hundred years ago by their wonderful Christian "family". After Rev. Joy Starwalt read 1 Peter 2: 4-7, the congregation sang, "My Hope is Built", and the ram's horn was sounded by Dave Johnson, Rudy Gron, Chairman of the Trustees, with the help of Kalle Starwalt, removed the cornerstone. The moment all had been waiting for had arrived, and with jubilation of some and disappointment of others, what did they find? A rusted, deteriorated tin can that crumpled to the touch; a glass bottle, with a decayed cork stopper that had fallen into the bottle, that had been placed in the can; disintegrated newspaper articles were wrapped
around the bottle; two old coins, stones, what looks like a cuff link, perhaps the remains of two tintype photos, and a couple other indistinguishable objects that had been placed in the bottle. Just the fact that they found something in the corner stone was exhilarating and exciting, but also disappointing because they thought they knew what was supposed to have been placed in the corner stone and it was not to be found. The more a small group of parishioners discussed what had been found, the more they became convinced that perhaps there were more articles in or near the area of the opening that had been made. They, Rudy Gron, Steve Starwalt, and James Cowan began a more thorough investigation of the area around where the stone had been removed, and Lo and behold! there was a metal box behind one of the other stones, the large stone with the date, 1897, carved in it. On Monday, Sept. 8th, using a power saw with a diamond cutting wheel, Rudy Gron, Steve Starwalt, Jim Cowan and LeRoy Merritt were able to remove the larger stone and found those articles that they thought were supposed to be there. The "tin box" in which the articles had been placed was very badly deteriorated, it all but fell apart to the touch. They did not immediately closely examine the contents because of the condition they were in, but it appeared that the box contained the articles they thought should be there; an American flag, newspaper clippings, a small book that is most likely an 1897 Methodist Discipline, three or four photos, and other paper items. Later, after the items had dried out, they were carefully removed from the box, separated as well as they could be, and displayed in the historical artifacts cabinet located in the church narthex. • In the evening on Rally Day the congregation was delighted that one of their members, Stephanie Keenum, chose the Marengo United Methodist Church for the place to debut her album of religious songs, "I'm Honored". Several of the songs on the album were written by Stephanie. There were approximately 150 people in attendance, many of them from other churches in the community. Her backup group was excellent and performed for the audience while Stephanie took breaks during the 1 1/2 hour performance. The concert was greatly enjoyed by all present who enthusiastically honored Stephanie with much applause and two standing ovations during the evening. Coffee, punch, cake and cookies were enjoyed by all in the church dining room after the performance. The church leaders and officials in 1997, the centennial year of the church building, were: • Pastor: Joy Starwalt • Administrative Council: Clara Piper, chairperson; Nell Gron, vice-chairperson; Gaye Anderson, Sandy Hicks, Ude Immega, Diane Oranger, Cliff Simons, LeRoy Merritt, Bruce Muench, Lisa Kirchhoff and Duane Oranger, members at large • Recording Secretary: Lois Mollitor • Annual Conference: Jane McDonald, lay delegate; Fred Wallis, alternate lay delegate • Lay Leaders: Bruce and Janet Cowan • Financial Secretary: Scott Anderson • Treasurer: Barbara Holtzee; Nell Gron, assistant • Trustees: Rudy Gron, chairperson; Dave Johnson, vice-chairperson; Richard Anderson, Dorothy Otis, Penny Collins, Wally Jakubowski, Jim Evans, Vicki Loudenbeck and Diane Oranger, members • Pator-Parish Relations Committee: Frank Gualillo, chairperson; Lynnea Loudenbeck, Curt Simons, Margie Murray, Mary Jo Olbrich, Rocco Gailloreto, Donna Emmega and Dewey Meinders, members • Finance Committee: Russ Murray and Bill Piper, chairpersons; Paul Chambers, Sally Gailloreto, LeRoy Merritt, Duane Oranger, Dennis Robertson, Tom Smith, Fred Wallis, Barbara Holtzee, Richard Anderson, Jane McDonald, Clara Piper and Scott Anderson, members • Christian Education Committee: Rosemary Cummings and Joan McIntyre, chairpersons; Janet Cowan, Marni Eschman, Linda Jakubowski, Lynette Paradiso, Mary Kay Pawlicki, Connie
Sandman and Terri Votava, members • Nursery Committee: Gina Rickerd, chairperson; DeAnna Brandt, Robin Jakubowski, Vicki Loudenbeck, Diane Oranger, Cathy Rucker and Fran Wilson, members • Worship Committee: Marilyn Stone, chairperson; Linda Chambers, Linda Crank, Linda Jakubowski, Ed Richard, Nancy Richard, Bobby Rucker, Bruce Swonguer, members • Membership and Evangelism Committee: Sue Gualillo, chairperson; Marj Gober, LaVerne Loudenbeck, Stan McDonald, Betty Miller, Lynette Paradiso, Jill Rucker, Marcia Simons, Dori Smith, Steve Starwalt and Barbara Trask, members • Membership Secretary: Patricia Merritt • Missions: Elizabeth Draper, chairperson; Ethel Lewis, Darryl Loudenbeck, Dorothy Muench, Doris Mulasmajic, Cheryl Robertson and Fred Trask, members • Nominations: Rev. Joy Starwalt, chairperson; Russ Murray, Peter Perkins, Angie Richardson, Janet Cowan, Marni Eschman, Jeff Perkins, Sally Gailloreto, Nell Gron and Barbara Holtzee, members • Inter-Church Council: June Leprich and Janice Perkins, representatives • Loaves & Fishes Food Pantry: June Leprich, representative • Youth Director: Marni Eschman • District: Russ Murray and Bill Piper, stewards; LeRoy Merritt, alternate steward • Memorials: Connie Dennison, chairperson; Richard Anderson, Carol Johnson, Becky Knisley and Mary Jo Olbrich, members • Vision 2000 Task Force: Rev. Joy Starwalt, chairperson; Janet Cowan, Marj Gober, Wally Jakubowski, Lisa Kirchhoff, Doris Mulasmajic, Margie Murray, Lynette Paradiso and Fred Wallis, members • Long Ranch Planning Committee: Dave Johnson, chairperson; Richard Anderson, Chuck Andrews, Jim Cowan, Nell Gron, Rudy Gron, Frank Gualillo, Stan McDonald, Betty Meinders, LeRoy Merritt, Russ Murray, Duane Oranger, Lynette Paradiso, Peter Perkins and Steve Starwalt, members • Auditing Committee: Al Hicks and Jim Zenk • Historians: Marjorie Gober, Dorothy Muench and Janice Perkins • Centennial Committee: Clara Piper, Lynette Paradiso, Dorothy Muench, Marilyn Stone and Rev. Joy Starwalt Sunday School facts and history The following was furnished by Marg Gober, Sunday School Superintendent for several years:
• Don Hildebrand's high school class, with the help of Elmer Hill, would keep the MarengoUnion Road clear of trash, papers, etc. • Rally Day, for many years has been held the first Sunday of Sunday School after the summer break. This gives the students the opportunity to meet and get to know their new teachers, a special program is held and the morning is concluded with a balloon launch. In recent years all church members have been invited to attend this celebration. • The Sunday before Halloween, fourth graders and older, canvas the town collecting money for the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF), an agency of the United Nations (UN) devoted to the welfare of children. The organization was established by the UN General Assembly in 1946 to help children in post-World War II Europe and China. UNICEF currently focuses on establishing long-term human development, although it continues to offer emergency relief and rehabilitation assistance when necessary. UNICEF is governed by a 36-member executive board that establishes policies, reviews programs, and approves expenditures. UNICEF currently has more than 200 offices in 115 developing countries. A network of 34 committees in industrialized
nations promotes support for UNICEF programs through fund raising, advocacy, education, and information activities. The agency is funded entirely by voluntary government and public contributions. This has always been very successful, with the citizens of Marengo being very generous in their giving. This would be followed with games and refreshments for the children who participated. • The Sunday before Thanksgiving, the Sunday School students collected can goods for the orphanage in Woodstock, IL and used clothing that would be distributed by Chicago churches to those local persons in need and to Indians on reservations in the West. • Sunday School Christmas programs were held on a Sunday evening during the Christmas season with all age groups involved, including adults who were not members of a class. Refreshments followed and all those in attendance returned to their homes with an enhanced Christmas Spirit. • About 1970, Marg Gober, Betty Steffen and Florence Bell were instrumental in establishing a Sunday School library with several reference, Christian, history and children's books to be used by the students and members of the church. • Martha Perkins, Primary Superintendent, had a Mother's Day program for all mothers of the primary students and gave each mother a flower. Later this concept was used by the rest of the Sunday School as well as every mother attending church that Sunday received a small flowering plant. • Mrs. Perkins also initiated a plan to increase Sunday School attendance. Each student received one token for attending Sunday School and one token if they brought their bible with them. At the end of the year a store was set up in the basement and the students could use their tokens to purchase Christian merchandise.
Legacy The United Methodist Church has been a most important factor for the betterment of this community for one hundred and sixty one years. The first, or one of the first, sermons delivered in this locality was preached by a Methodist minister, probably Rev. William Royal, in 1836 at the home of Calvin Spencer, one year before the Marengo Methodist Class was founded in 1837. After 19 years as a “Methodist Class” being served by Methodist Circuit Riders, Marengo Methodist Church was designated a “Station” in 1856 and Rev. J. P. Vance was assigned full time to the Marengo Methodist Church.
THE NEW CHURCH BUILDING, 1897 In 1897 our current church building was completed at a cost, including the ground, of about $14,000. Rev. Edward J. Rose, pastor of the Marengo Methodist Church (1896-1898) designed and drew the plans for the new church. Architect R. C.. Loos of Philadelphia furnished the detailed building plans and specifications. However, Rev. Rose redrew the plans, rewrote the specifications and supervised the construction of the building. Mr. W. G. Wilcox , of Elgin, was the general contractor, Mr. John Fluck, of Elgin, IL was the mason contractor and seating was by the Wabash Seating Co. of Indiana. On July 11, 1897 the corner stone was laid on the North West corner of the foundation. A tin box was placed in the corner stone with due form and ceremony by Methodist Bishop S. S. Merrill. The box contains: List of church members; names of those on the building committee; names of the pastor, presiding elder and bishop; brief history of the church; copies of the Northwestern Christian Advocate, Epworth Herald, Marengo News, Methodist Discipline; portraits of John Wesley, Charles Wesley, Bishop Merrill and Dr. F. A. Hardin, presiding elder; picture of the Old Stone Church, inside and out; American flag; list of surviving members who were present when the Old Stone Church was build; card of W.C.T.U.; names of architect and contractor. On Dec. 5, 1897, just five months after the cornerstone was laid, the church dedication service was held by Bishop S. M. Merrill. At this time $2,000 was needed to make the new church completely debt free. At the dedication service $2,700 was raised, with the excess going into the organ fund. It is reported that, "Dr. Curtis, of Cincinnati, made the people feel happy while they poured their money into the Lord's treasury." The new Church, 1897 The building is situated on the southwest corner of Washington and Taylor streets, facing north. It is an imposing structure, built of Milwaukee, cream colored, pressed brick, trimmed with the best quality of Bedford stone, with window casings and outside wood work of a light gray color, to harmonize with the general effect. The edifice is built upon the Gothic plan with five gables and two towers. The foundation walls are laid at a depth of nine feet and four inches, upon a footing three feet wide, while the main tower rests upon a footing four feet wide. The roof is of slate, trimmed with galvanized iron ornaments, painted gray. The general features of the church lie in the fact that the whole structure is built upon the octagonal plan, every room being of this design; every aisle is so arranged as to lead directly to an exit, this making it extremely easy of access and exit. The dimensions of the building as completed are as follows: extreme width 87 feet; depth 71 feet; side walls, 22 feet in height from foundation; the audience room is 49 feet square; lecture room, 26x33 feet; class room, 21x24 feet; gallery, 26x33 feet; height of main tower to roof, 60 feet, to final point, 89 feet. There is a basement under a portion of the building, in which are the furnaces and other appurtenances requisite for comfort in the building. The main entrance is through the base of the tower, on Washington Street, although there is another double door on Taylor Street. Both entrances are through arched doorways with fancy trimmings of brick and stone. The doors are of double thick solid oak, with outer sides of beaded boards and inside of raised panels. They present a very handsome appearance, being trimmed with fancy Gothic hinge-plates, knobs and escutcheons. The main entrance and audience room are finished in oak, a greater part of which is quarter-sawed. An entrance from the north brings one into a deep, wide hallway, at the immediate left of which
are double doors with yellow glass panels, leading to the audience room; at the right is the gallery entrance, and farther along the hall to the right, the entrance to the class room; and at the farther end of the hallway are double doors opening into the lecture room. The hall floor is covered with heavy matting. The first floor comprises the audience room, class room and kitchen; the second floor, the gallery, infant class room and ladies parlor. The audience room is finely arranged, the seating being on a slight incline, arranged in a semicircular manner, separated by aisles converging toward the pulpit. The pews are of light colored oak, with heavy carved arms. The prevailing colors in this room, and in fact throughout the church, are light green and cream; the side walls being of the first names color and the ceilings of the latter; the carpets and other furnishings being in harmony. The frescoing is of the scroll-leaf and drop lace pattern in light brown and maroon. The pulpit is in the northeast corner, with choir and organ left, directly back and above. The pulpit and organ loft are separated by heavy wainscoting of quarter-sawed oak. Over the arch above the pulpit is the inscription, in old English text, "Holiness unto the Lord." The alcove decorations start at the sides and surmount the top, terminating in a point at the apex. The ceilings are supported by seven exposed trusses, chamfered and finished in natural colors. In the center is a large circle of natural wood, eight feet in diameter, in which is the ventilating apparatus. Depending from the center of this circular piece is a 60 inch, 30 light, double cone chandelier of carved and polished brass with corrugated mirror reflectors. At the rear of the audience room is the lecture room, separated from the auditorium by double doors with translucent, stained glass, and Wilson roller partitions, this permitting the lecture room and auditorium to be thrown into one room when desired. The gallery is above this room arranged on an incline and seated with a view to afford to its occupants a view of all parts of the main room. The lighting of all these rooms, as well as throughout the whole church, is by 16 candle power incandescent lights, arranged in carved brass brackets, clusters and pendants, all furnished with cream and white lily-bulb shades and opalescent globes. The seating capacity of the audience room is 280, lecture room, 140, gallery, 120, making a total of 540, not including the smaller rooms; by the addition of folding chairs, 600 can be accommodated, as was manifested at the morning and evening services of dedication. The pulpit furniture, flower stands and communion table are of the finest polished quarter-sawed oak of the Muncia pattern; the communion table was presented to the church by the "Pearl Gatherers," an organization of young ladies of the church. The parlor is furnished with oak rockers, table and divan, the latter two articles being presented by J. W. Usborne and his wife.
STAINED GLASS WINDOWS The glass used in the construction of the beautiful windows of the church is of the finest imported stained glass, with jeweled settings. They are surely some of the most beautiful stained glass windows in the country. In the choir loft are four Gothic windows with the harp, lyre, (Psalm 150: 1 & 3, Praise the Lord. Praise him with the sounding of the trumpet, praise him with the harp and lyre) Aplha and Omega (Rev. 1: 8, I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the ending, saith the Lord, which is, and which was, and which is to come, the Almighty) emblems in the centers. You can see three of these windows only from the outside of the church, from the inside they are hidden from sight behind the organ pipes. The window with the lyre can be seen from inside the church. It is on the left side, north wall, of the choir loft. The two main windows measure 12 1/2 X 22 feet. On the left, north wall of the sanctuary, the window is a grand beautiful example of artistic work, containing a full sized representation of the Good Shepherd, with a lamb folded in His arms (John 10: 14, 15, I am the good shepherd; I know my sheep and my sheep know me - just as the Father knows me and I know the Father - and I lay down my life for the sheep.); at either side are smaller windows with emblems of the Lily of the Valley and the Rose of Sharon (Song of Solomon 2: 1, 2, I am the rose of sharon, and the lily of the valleys. As the lily among thorns, so is my love among the daughters.); in the beautiful circular window above is the Cross (symbol of Christianity) and Crown (Christ the king). To the right of the north main window is a 13 foot window with and open bible (God's word) and a spray of palm leaves (symbol of triumph) as a center piece. On the right, east wall, the main window is also one of rare beauty, depicting the Anchor of Hope (Which hope we have as an anchor of the soul, both sure and steadfast, and which entereth into that within the veil. In the circular window above is the Descending Dove, symbol of the Holy Spirit (Matthew 3: 16, As soon as Jesus was baptized, he went up out of the water. At that moment heaven was opened, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and lighting on him). The windows are so arranged as to afford a sublime effect and at the same time furnish excellent light. The windows are so situated that no person in the audience or on the platform will be compelled to look directly at them. All windows in the church, except the basement, are of beautiful ornamental stained glass.
PIPE ORGAN The pipe organ is the original organ and was dedicated, by Rev. Edward J. Rose, September 11, 1898, about nine months after the dedication of the church building. It was manufactured in Germany and installed by the W. W. Kimball Co. of Chicago, IL. The cost, including the plumbing, seats for the choir, etc. was $1,200. In about 1947, the organ console was modernized into a remote, electrically controlled console and moved from in front of the organ pipes and placed in its current location. At this same time the front of the sanctuary was remodeled as you see it today.
Published on Mar 16, 2009