In February 1836, Beman Crandall stopped his covered wagon somewhere in Crystal Lake, declared, “It is good. Let us stay here,” and thus became our town’s first settler. Not long after, George Stickney, Christopher Walkup, Uriah Cottle, and A.W. Beardsley came to what is now Nunda Township (the area generally north of the present Crystal Lake Ave., and East of Walkup), pronounced – Nun-day, and became instrumental in establishing the community’s first church, which was known as the Virginia Church. This was a nondenominational body formed to serve the religious needs of the area and named after the area from which many of the early settlers came. The organizational meeting for the Virginia Church was held in the home of Uriah Cottle, a Methodist, and the community’s first religious service was held in the home of Christopher Walkup.
In 1873, the Methodist Episcopal Church moved into their new building which was built at the West corner of Brink and Williams streets (45 N. Williams St.) at the site of the present Genovese Restaurant in the Brink Street Market area. This church was built at a cost of $2500 and was dedicated November 15, 1874. It became the nucleus of the facilities, which were to serve the Methodist congregation for the next 80 years. The 1873 church was extensively remodeled in 1898 and again in 1920. In the latter remodeling, a new pipe organ was dedicated.
The church then boasted a membership of about 200, and the familiar spire of this church could be seen from almost any approach to Crystal Lake as it extended above the surrounding trees and buildings. It had become a landmark of Crystal Lake. A three-story, five-bedroom parsonage was built in 1899 at the south corner of Brink and Williams streets (44 N. Williams St.) and was used until 1958.
By 1952, it was apparent that expanded church facilities were needed. A $200,000 church was designed by architects Stade and Cooley. With income from the sale of the downtown properties (the church and the parsonage), and $30,000 of advanced gifts pledged by 24 members, it was decided to go full speed ahead.
An initial pledge goal of $70,000 was set, and 200 members and friends gathered for a ceremonial ground breaking on the new site at the junction of Crystal Lake Ave., Dole Ave., and Pine Ct. in October 1952. Part of the present property (4 ½ acres) was acquired in June 1952, and additional land was purchased in July 1953, making a total of 5 acres. Ground was formally broken April 11, 1953, and the cornerstone was laid in July 1954. The Formal Opening Service of the church as held on February 6, 1955. As members and visitors entered the narthex of the new church, they were greeted by the beloved and familiar Good Shepherd window from the 1873 church, which had been incorporated into the new building.
Upon retirement of the original debt, this new church was first dedicated on March 17, 1963.
Also in 1991, our congregation recognized that we had outgrown our 300-seat sanctuary, and began to investigate the building of a new sanctuary. After many all-church meetings, and much disagreement, Edward Coonrad stood up and said, “It’s time for us to move on. Let’s build the new sanctuary!” With the tide turned, committees were set up, and a $2.8 million expansion of the church facility was initiated. Ground was broken on October 11, 1992. The new addition consisted of a 500-seat sanctuary, a larger narthex and coat closet, an usher’s room, a kitchenette, a maintenance room, and the Community Room (120) on the lower level, and classrooms, a music room, and a balcony area on the upper level. The first worship service was held on Mother’s Day of 1994. This new facility was consecrated on September 11, 1994. After we moved to our new sanctuary, our former sanctuary was redesigned and renamed Hale Chapel.
If you’d like to dive deep into the history of our church, below you’ll find a wealth of information.
The Methodist Church was established in 1839.
Most of the early members resided in Nunda but the Church Was in Crystal Lake.
It was in December 1835 that George Stickney came to what is now Nunda Township. About that same time, Beman Crandall and others arrived; among them were Christopher Walkup, Uriah Cottle and A.W. Beardsley, three religious men.
Most of the early settlers were from Virginia and First Church was called the ‘Virginia Church’ organized in the house of Uriah Cottle, a Methodist. The first services were held in Christopher Walkup’s home. In the summer of 1841, Methodist camp meetings were held in the grounds near what is now Woodstock. Everyone went, no matter what his religion, for the people of all denominations worshipped together. In the winters, revivals were held in Mr. Beardsley’s home.
It was a few years later that little George Stickney died and services were held in Mr. Walkup’s home with Rev. Van Alstine, a Universalist minister, officiating. The first marriage was performed by Beman Crandall, a justice of the peace. This service was held on March 10,1839. The couple married was Hanna Beardsley and Franklin Wallace.
Thus the people continued to worship until there were enough members to organize a Methodist Episcopal church in Crystal Lake. Uriah Cottle was the zealous worker who called the meeting at his home and laid plans for the church. It was organized in a log schoolhouse, in the year 1846, on the site where John Buehlers’ store stood. In this schoolhouse other denominations worshiped, some in the morning, some in the afternoon, and others in the evening. In 1858 a comfortable house of worship for the Methodists was built costing $2400. This building is supposed to have stood facing West toward the park on Virginia Street. It was dedicated in 1869 by Rev. McKegg of Chicago. The first baptism in this church was that of Francis Beardsley in 1861, Rev. Lazenby officiating. The first marriage performed in the new church was of Miss Martha J. Buck and Rev. J.H. Hargrove.
As the years passed, the village of Nunda grew. Since most of the members resided in Nunda, they were urging to sell this church building in Crystal Lake and build another one in Nunda. As they did not succeed, the members rented a hall in Nunda and worshiped there and engaged the services of a half-time minister. Finally in 1867 they purchased the old Congregational Church in Crystal Lake and moved it to Nunda where it was put into good repair inside and out. Those members still worshipping in the old Methodist Church in Crystal Lake decided to sell it and so the First Methodist Church building was sold to the German Lutherans for the sum of $400 and once more the Methodists were united in worship in the church at Nunda.
In 1873 this church building was sold to Josiah Walkup the first depot agent in Nunda, for the new railroad known as the Fox River Valley Line. Mr. Walkup remodeled it into a dwelling house which then became the Pingry Hotel.
The old church was replaced in 1873 by a new one, which cost $2500. This building stood on the corner of Williams and Brink streets. The land was donated by Richard and Elizabeth Bonner. The new church was dedicated in 1874 by Rev. S.A. Jewett.
The ministers who have served this church since 1870 are as follows: Rev. J.S. Norris 1871, AJ. Scott 1871, L. Clifford 1873, E.M. Boring 1874, Samuel Hewes 1875, G.L. Wiley 1876 – 1877, L.E. Burtch 1878, J.H. Bacon 1879 – 1880, J.B. Babbitt 1881, J.M. Conlee 1882 – 1885. The Trustees were W.W. Hartman, C.B. Felt, O.C. Colby, J.H. Ashton, E. Hubbard, R. Bonner and G.E. Dickinson.
Some of the earlier ministers who came to serve this charge were L.A. Sanford, C. Lazenby, J.R. Hamilton, A.J. Burlingame, W.S. Harington, W.J. Ryder, Ira B. Handy, S.R. Shaw, and R.H. Wilkinson.
Others who have served the church were O.H.Cessna, George H.Wells, William H. Pierce, W.H. Locke, William Smith, W.B. Barnes, H.D. Dick, R.E. Putnam, E.K. Hester, Omer T. Canfield and Albert B. Wagner. The present minister is Miron A. Morrill.
In the summer of 1920 the church was remodeled and an addition was put on the northeast corner. The front entrance was also improved by building a room over the stairs. A beautiful two manual pipe organ was installed in honor of Richard and Elizabeth Bonner by Mr. & Mrs. Ziba H. Osmun. A choir rail was made and presented by John Dahlstrand and E.J. King.
On September 5, 1920 the new pipe organ was dedicated and the remodeled church was reopened. Rev. W.E. Grose spoke. The sermon was given by Allison F. Clarke of the Rock River Conference. Ziba Osmun presented the church with the organ. Rev. Barnes responded and Dr. Clarke dedicated it. The church now has a membership of about 200, a Sunday school of 100, and three societies all working hard to benefit the church. They are the Philatheans, the Dorcas Society, started about twelve years ago in Mrs. Laura Kittle’s home and the Woman’s Foreign Missionary Society.
The Methodist Episcopal Church of Crystal Lake and Nunda is now known as the First Methodist Episcopal Church of Crystal Lake, for, not only have the two churches united, but likewise the two villages have become one. As the first Methodist service was held in 1939, the Methodists can almost call this their centennial.
The population of Crystal Lake in 1936 was 3724.
October 16, 1953
These are interesting comments about concerns just prior to moving from the downtown church.
The best guess now is that construction will begin promptly in the spring, since our architects do not advise any masonry construction in the winter.
However, it looks as though it won’t be too long before our plans will be ready, with cost breakdown, for us to accept. Then the specifications can be let out for bids. Once we accept a bid, concrete plans can be made by all persons involved toward the actual beginning of construction.
A second feature we are all concerned about has to do with the finances. We are happy to report that as a result of our Finance Campaign last May, we now have a total of $74,438.55 which has been pledged. This is an increase of more than $2000 since the end of the campaign.
The payments on the pledges have been a most encouraging sign of support. Cash has come in as follows: During campaign in May – $7,671.35; June – $2,713.34; July – $1.350.86; August $3,325.75; and September – $2,143.55. This makes a total of $17,207.35 which has been paid to date.
We trust that the funds will continue to come in at this very heartening rate.
Some folks have wondered why Ann Porter (or Bill Long) passed out the receipted payment folders on Sunday morning after church. By doing this over a 3-year period with the great number of accounts we have, several hundred dollars can be saved for the building effort. We would rather put up with this ‘nuisance’ than subsidize the U.S. Post Office unnecessarily – although, of course, we have no particular grudge against the latter.
Since we have also received the proceeds of the sale of the parsonage property, we have on hand a substantial beginning for our total building fund. In order to keep these funds from just laying around idle, the trustees are investing substantial amounts in short-term government securities, thus being able to pick up a little interest.
One problem of furnishings which has been debated at considerable length over the last couple of months is the organ. Agreement has been reached that we install a new pipe organ, which will use all the pipes from our present organ. The discussion has been necessary to ascertain the amount of room needed for the organ chambers, and to decide this question; we have been in consultation with the Wicks Organ Co. However, no contract has been entered into yet until the over-all financing of the church can be better calculated.
We encourage you to ask questions about these building matters of the persons who know. Those most directly acquainted are George DeBeer, Chairman of the Executive Council, and Bob Proctor, Chairman of the Plans and Construction Committee.
At the corner of Brink and Williams Street, in 1899, a large and stately parsonage was built, across from the new Methodist Church. This Manse was a three-story residence including the attic which was floored over. On the second floor were five large and well-lighted bedrooms, a bathroom and a long hallway, from which one could enter the attic and also go down into the kitchen from a rear stairway. Clothes’ closets were in every room and a very attractive linen closet (it too was spacious) was built on the hallway.
Often the families of the minister were large and the five bedrooms were needed. Often visitors from other towns and visiting ministers stayed overnight. The automobile was a thing of the future and trains were used for traveling. Schedules were not always right for return trips and so the visitors were invited to stay in the parsonage.
Downstairs – one entered a hallway from the front porch, which was built across the front of the house. Here in the cool of the summer evenings the family sat and watched the horse-drawn buggies pass and often the friends of the minister would wave or stop and visit a few minutes. Too much speed was unknown in the 1890’s.
Along the north side of the house was another porch from which one could enter the second parlor; at the kitchen door and on the south side of the house, were a porch and an entrance to the kitchen and the basement. The kitchen was a good size as was the lovely dining room with a spacious china cabinet with glass doors. The woodwork throughout the house was of oak wood as were the floors.
The first parlor, for in all the best homes in those mid-Victorian days there were two parlors, one could enter here from the front large hallway and a wide archway separated the two parlors. Many meetings and luncheons were held in these two rooms. This truly was a lovely house and a homey place. As the years passed, repairs were taken care of, such as a new roof and later a new furnace. Men from the membership of the church were always ready to do all they could, as did the men who helped to build the parsonage.
When in 1954 the congregation had grown too large, a new church was built at Dole and Crystal Lake Avenues and the old church and the lots on which the church and parsonage stood were sold and the old parsonage was then moved to 20 Paddock Street, where it answered as a parsonage until a new modern one was built at 303 West Crystal Lake Avenue.
A substantial part of Crystal Lake stood agog when the parsonage and another house on North Williams Street, each loosed from its moorings, rolled down in the direction of Paddock Street. It was a fete of great interest, but it was also attended with a lot of problems. Suffice it to say that the time schedule did not work according to preconceived notions.
It was several weeks before the parsonage was ready for occupancy. The whole thing meant considerable inconvenience for the parsonage family. The family tried sleeping in cramped quarters in the Pingree Hotel for a couple weeks, eating in the church kitchen, and shuffling among three places for the articles used in daily life. Most of the minister’s books and office material were still in the parsonage, so he brought some office equipment to the church.
The minister took his family to Iowa at the end of September. Living there in a home with relatives was a considerable improvement. The beauty of the fall weather eased the situation materially, also. The family remained in Iowa until toward the end of the month. When they returned many of the folks about the church had mercy upon the minister and invited him for many fine meals until the parsonage was again livable.
The lovely old Manse now is sold and houses a family and the voices of little children ring throughout its rooms and hallways. It lives again.
(Casavant Organ installed in 1983)
Our Casavant pipe organ was originally installed in the balcony of the Sanctuary of which the front half is now Hale Chapel. The design of the inverted V followed the roof line of the sanctuary and occupied approximately one quarter of the balcony itself. The decision to replace the old organ was made early in 1978.
All of 1977 – 78 was spent investigating manufacturers and visiting churches. Early in 1978, it was decided to engage Casavant Freres, LTD of St. Hyacinth, Quebec, Canada to build the new organ. Construction began in the church late summer 1978 and the new organ was dedicated on September 16, 1979 with a concert presented by out then organist, Naomi Rowley.
Casavant was established in 1879 and is one of the oldest organ builders in North America. The organ is called a “tracker” or mechanical action organ. Trackers are slender rods that connect the keys to the valves under the pipes.
The tracker organ is the type Bach played. Except for the blower, everything is mechanical. When a key is pressed, a series of trackers and levers opens the valve that lets air into the pipes. This is the most sensitive and long lasting of all the available types of actions and gives an organist increased control. The mechanical action is sensitive to the musician, just as a violin or flute is sensitive to the musician’s touch. It is ideal for hymns and classical music and excels as a fine musical instrument.
There are other advantages of a tracker in addition to the quality of sound. The foremost is longevity. In Europe there are tracker organs over 600 years old. Electric key switches and valve contacts on direct-electric or electric-pneumatic pipe organs have a limited life-span before they have to be rebuilt or overhauled. Maintenance costs, excluding tuning, is near zero on a tracker organ.
When our new sanctuary was built, this organ was completely dismantled, stored in the church basement, then reinstalled in our new sanctuary. It looks like it was designed for its new location and sounds as good as it was meant to be.
Today we celebrate the 50th Anniversary of our church at this location, the corner of Dole and Crystal Lake Avenues. The Methodist Church is the oldest church body in Crystal Lake. Our roots go back to 1836 when members first met in homes.
History is important to us for many reasons; it defines who we are, it supplies the backbone for an organization, and it creates for many of us a link with the past. One of our local historians said that the early churches in this community were the glue that held this community together.
For many of you, your history is just beginning in this church, but some of us go back a long way. Let’s see – all of you who have been members of this church for more than 30 years please raise your hand. How many of you have been members here for less than 5 years?
History has a strange way of affecting us all. Pastor John Figley who served here from 1962 – 1968 married Dave & Bonnie Seyller down in Aurora!
Fred Etheridge is the only surviving member of the original executive committee who planned and coordinated the building of this present church. Bob Visin was also instrumental in the early years
Let’s look at some moments of our history that brought us to this place – from the downtown Crystal Lake location to this one in the “country”:
Our first church in 1846 was a log cabin on the corner of McHenry Ave. and Virginia St. A car repair establishment is currently there.
Our next church, 1858, was further up on Virginia overlooking McCormick Park, probably on the site where the Mobil Service Station is now.
Back then there were two parts of this town – generally north of Crystal Lake Ave. was the town of Nunda (Nun – day), and south of that line was Crystal Lake. There were more Methodists in Nunda and they wanted to worship closer to their homes so they rented a hall for worship. Around 1867 the Crystal Lake Methodists joined them.
In 1870 they sold their building to Josiah Walkup who moved it to Grant & Woodstock St. where it later became the Pingry Hotel, now a condominium complex.
In 1873 a new church was built in downtown Crystal Lake at the corner of Brink & Williams Streets, the current site of Genovese Restaurant. In 1898, the church was expanded to include the beautiful stained glass windows, and a three-story parsonage, which was built across the street from the church, the current site of the recently closed Steven Edwards men’s store. In 1920, the church was again remodeled to include a new entry, pipe organ, and boiler.
In 1952, the members decided it was time for a move as the church was getting hemmed in by stores, parking meters, and too many cars, and there was a rapid expansion of membership. George DeBeer, father of Joanna Ladd, went out to the country and secured the land needed for a new church.
Raymond Colby, father of Gail Hopkins, was one of the Stewards of the church. Gail shared the fact that their home was right in back of the church and remembers pulling the long rope that rang the church bell up in the steeple. Gail and Al were the first couple married in our new sanctuary and will celebrate their Golden Anniversary in just a few months.
Fred Etheridge served on the Board of Trustees. He was on several planning committees and was in charge of furnishings for the new church. Because the pews had not arrived, he and his committee went out and purchased the folding chairs for the sanctuary at $3.68 each. Fred has lots of stories about the downtown church, the move, and the beginnings of this church.
In order to have the money to put down for the new church, the parsonage was sold in 1953 and moved to Paddock St. where it currently is today. Their pastor lived in the Pingry Hotel until the parsonage was ready to be occupied. The downtown church was torn down in December of 1954 and became a parking lot for the Jewel Food Store that was there at the time. Currently, Genovese Restaurant occupies the space where our church once stood.
The very first service of this new church was in December of 1954, with folding chairs and a full choir. As members entered the new church, the ‘Good Shepherd’ stained glass window from the downtown church greeted them. The Formal Opening Ceremony was on February 6th, 1955 – exactly 50 years ago.
Since moving to this site – a new parsonage was built on Crystal Lake Ave in 1958. Bob Vison was chair of that committee. That parsonage was recently sold in 2000.
An Education Wing was added to this church in 1962 to give us another 12 Sunday School rooms and office space.
In 1966, an Americana Carillon of 75 bells was added.
In 1969, our first Associate Pastor, “Hoppie” arrived and a second parsonage was purchased on Lincoln Pkwy. When Rev. Bob Baker came to us in 1971, he and Jeanne lived there until 1974 when our current parsonage on Dole Ave. was purchased.
Worship in the Woods was started around 1971 by Rev. Jim Paulson. Pretty humble beginning as we brought lawn chairs or blankets to sit on and there was no electricity. In the next several years, benches were built, an altar replaced the old damaged fireplace, electrics were added, and just a couple years ago, a cross was erected by the Lindley family.
Rev. Gene Wykle arrived in 1973. He was our first pastor from the Evangelical United Brethren denomination. A ‘UNITED’ stone was added to our sign just outside the old front doors in 1975.
In 1979, the upper loft of the original sanctuary was remodeled and a new Casavant Tracker organ was installed. Ollie Mayes was instrumental in this entire process including the building of the organ. Since the organ was moved to this new sanctuary, Zimbelstern bells and Henderson horns have been added as memorial gifts.
Rev. Rick Carlson arrived in 1981 and took loving care of our church and of pastor Gene Wykle as Gene became ill and gradually too sick to preach.
Rev. Ray Rhodes arrived in 1984 and took us on a scholastic biblical journey.
Rev. Mike Marshall arrived in 1987 replacing Rev. Peter Ferguson who was our associate pastor for just a few years. Mike looked so young that he really blended in with our youth ministry.
Rev. Ray Miller arrived in 1989 and took us on the next step of our growth journey. The Saturday Night Alive, – a praise and worship service, was started in 1991.
Later, in 1991, as we were becoming too crowded again, plans were made to add a new sanctuary. Ground was broken on October 11th, 1992, and we had our formal opening on Mother’s Day 1994.
In 1994 Rev. David Eichelberger joined our staff as an associate and immediately got our attention when he marched all across the sanctuary platform announcing that the most important thing about buying a house was location, location, location!
In 1997, the new contemporary worship service, CrossRoads, was introduced at the 11:00 hour. Initially it was held in this sanctuary, but for more intimacy moved to Hale Chapel (our previous sanctuary). That space quickly filled up and had to move back into this sanctuary.
In 1998, Rev. Ronni Sue Verboom joined us as our first female pastor, and our hearts became joined as she closed our Worship in the Woods service with a loving prayer mentioning the gentle breeze rustling through the trees and the beautiful sounds of the song ‘When Johnny Comes Marching Home’ just sung by Bill & Bobby Hill.
In 1999, the spirited Rev. Doyle Blanton sang his way into our hearts. In 2002, the beautiful stained glass window in the front of the sanctuary was given as a memorial.
The Rev. David Seyller joined us as Senior Pastor in 2002 and will continue to lead us as we seek our vision for the future.
In December of 2002, the entire debt of this church building was paid off, and a mortgage burning ceremony was held on March 1st of 2003.
We are indebted to those who started our church 170 years ago and to those who brought us to our present location.
There is an assortment of memorabilia displayed in the balcony area plus a continually running slide show of old pictures. There are many handouts that you may take. Please check our web site which has much information and pictures on our history.
Thank you, and may God bless the First United Methodist Church of Crystal Lake.
(Remarks read by Don Rosborough for the 50th Anniversary)
In 1962, after the Educational wing was completed, Dr. John Figley, a visionary pastor and creative thinker, felt the need for the church structure to be used during the week and not just on Sunday morning. Dr. Figley and Jean Dee, Director of Children’s Ministries, decided there was a need for a Methodist sponsored week-day pre-school. In 1964, Judy Stockman was asked to assist by developing a plan to begin this initiative and to accept the responsibility as director/teacher. The Week-Day Pre-School became a reality and began with its first class in the fall of 1965 with 11 students and one teacher.
The school began with a basic budget for supplies and utilizing the church school equipment. Jackie Jollie, the church treasurer, handled all financial arrangements.
The basic goals and objectives of the school were to build a program to support the Christian education and foundation of our Methodist Church children and the children in the community. The purpose was to meet their emotional, intellectual, creative and physical needs within a Christian environment. The physical setting was ideal – the three classrooms were large, well furnished, and close together. Wesley Hall was ideal for large play equipment, running and using outside voices. The outdoor play area and surrounding field and woods provided good running and nature hikes.
The first class consisted of eleven 4-year old students and met three times a week from 9:00 – 11:30 a.m. The staff developed the instructional curriculum by selecting and purchasing materials to meet the needs of the children. Carolyn Sigmund was the second lead teacher to be hired in 1967 and taught for 22 years. Karen Smith was the third lead teacher to be hired in 1968, and taught for 20 years. The first p.m. teacher was Jeannie Baker, who taught for one year. Then Linnea Oleson was hired. Nancy Booth was hired in 1972 to teach the second afternoon class. Sandi Rasmussen replaced Linnea in 1978.
Nancy Booth became Director of the First United Methodist Weekday Preschool in 1979. She replaced Judy Stockman who left this position after fourteen years to become faculty/staff at Grand Valley State University, Grand Rapids, MI. At this time, Karen Groos replaced Nancy as lead teacher in the afternoon.
The three year old program was added with Carolyn and Karen as the first lead teachers. Further growth was adding a 3rd class to each session, and an afternoon 2 day a week program.
Some of the lead teachers we had during the years were: Jane Bradley Wood, Donna Burkett, Pat Broederdorf, Bonnie Blundy, Carol DePue, Sandy Poling.
Some of the aides were: Jamie Shoemaker, Julie Waring, Betsy Baldwin, Barb Kearns, Carolyn Reed, Elaine Krallitch, Mary Clouse, and Nancy Freburg.
The teachers and aides worked well together, enjoyed each other, and built long lasting relationships.
The Music Program was very special. At first there were three “old” upright pianos – one in each classroom. Each day the children had about 20 minutes of music. Doris Ihde, Jan Fritz and Jane Bradley Wood taught the children songs. They sang, jumped, skipped, and clapped to the music of the piano. The highlight of the year was our Mother’s Day Tea. The children put on a full program under the direction of the music teacher. This was followed by tea and cookies and an open house where the walls were covered with special art projects to show mom, and of course, a special Mother’s Day present and card. It was quite a production.
The teachers have been excellent and creative. Only certified teachers with classroom experience and credentials for teaching in the public school were hired. The pre-school was certified by the State of Illinois Department of Children and Family Services in the year 1965.
In the early years, an Advisory Board was created with members involved and advocates from the church. The first chair of this board was Martin Anderson, Principal of Coventry School and a member of the Methodist Church. After Martin left Maxine Kempf became the Chair of the Advisory Board. They were helpful in assisting in the preparation of policies and perspectives that were beneficial in growing the school.
Under ‘kids say the darnedest things’ section, Carolyn remembers two of the girls in her class playing and sharing a game. It was time to put things away and get ready to go home, and one of the girls found a small shelf for the game. Her friend looked at the shelf and said it ain’t going to fit. She received an instant reply; “Ain’t is not a word ……Her friend also gave a reply, and said, “It is too; I have an Ain’t Sally that lives in St. Louis!” Another teacher remembers an incident in the late 1970’s where the class had a special visit from Santa. One occasion Santa let the children ask questions. One little girl in the front row raised her hand and asked “Why are you wearing Reverend Baker’s shoes?
Throughout the 50 years of Methodist Week-Day Pre-School, there have been many wonderful experiences with associates of the church families, pastors, directors, teachers and staff. As we look forward to a new school year in 2014, First Church has dedicated the entire downstairs of our facility to the Pre-school and we have a new Director, Kim Lamz. There are currently 1 Director, 1 Asst. Director, 10 Teachers, 93 Students, and 6 classrooms in use for children ages 2 – 5 year-olds to gain a Christian Education. We look forward to many more years of providing Christian education for pre-school children in our Church and community.
Our beautiful church building has two sets of stained glass – the original stained glass at the front of the building, one piece of which was brought from the old downtown church in 1954, and the other, relatively new stained glass in our sanctuary
The stained glass at the front of our original building is in two sections. One section, called the ‘Christ Window’ contains the Christ the Good Shepherd picture along with the Alpha & Omega symbols. These were brought from the old downtown church to this location in 1954; the rest of the window is new. The other section called the ‘Wesley Window’ was newly purchased for this new building. The following description of the “Christ Window” was written by Pastor Gilbert A. Weisshaar (Pastor in 1954).
There are four essential symbols which compose the Christ Window. When taken together they say much about the central figure in the Christian faith. The first, starting at the bottom center of the window, is the traditional ‘IHS’ (standing for the first three letters of the Greek word for “Jesus”) with emanating rays of the sun diminishing in intensity the further from the center one goes. The total symbol stands for Jesus as the “Son of Righteousness”. His historicity and humanity are affirmed in using his human name – “Jesus”. He stands as the one whom God raises up in human history to fulfill the longings of the prophets as typified by Malachi 4:2 – “But for you who revere my name, there will arise the sun of righteousness, with healing in its wings”, or by Isaiah 11:5, as he contemplates the character of the Messiah – “Righteousness will be the girdle round his loins…”.
The Christian views Jesus as the righteous one of God who has come to deal with the spiritual wounds of men.
The second symbol, more a picture than a symbol, depicts “CHRIST, THE GOOD SHEPHERD”. It, and the Alpha and Omega monogram, was preserved from the old church for inclusion in this window. The words in the gospel of John, the great shepherd passage, are vividly recalled. The following are brief extracts: “I am the good Shepherd, and I lay down my life for the sheep, and I have other sheep that are not of this fold; I must bring them also, and they will heed my voice.” John 10:11a, 15b, 16a. The Good Shepherd reminds us of the everlasting mission of the Church – to express concern for and to reach out toward the very last sheep (man).
The third symbol, in the upper left-hand corner is the Chi Rho monogram (standing for Christ), slightly turned, with an “N” in the background. The “N” comes from the Greek word “NIKA” which means “VICTOR” (or Nike meaning Victory). Hence, the symbol in its entirety means – “CHRIST THE VICTOR”. The moving words of St. Paul in I Corinthians 15 describing the victory which is ours because Christ overcame sin and death, immediately come to mind – “Thanks be to God who giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.” I Corinthians 15:57.
Fourth, is the “Alpha and Omega” monogram located near the Good Shepherd figure. In Revelation 22:13 we find the words – “I am the Alpha and the Omega, the first and the last, the beginning and the end.” The monogram is composed of the first and last letters of the Greek alphabet. It reminds us of the eternity of God. But it also serves to counsel us that God is eternally present in Jesus Christ. God speaks today and tomorrow even as He spoke yesterday in the Word made flesh. In man’s perennial access to a loving, faithful God lies humanity’s hope in this world and the next. – By Gilbert A Weisshaar, Pastor
The description of the ‘Wesley Window’ was written from information supplied by Pastors Dave Seyller and Ray Miller (former pastors of First UMC) and a Chicago Tribune article from 1955.
The Wesley Window has three symbols displayed on it and a picture of John Wesley preaching. The music symbol is displayed to represent the significance of music in the Wesleyan revival. It also reminds us of Charles Wesley who wrote over 6000 hymns. and Wesley preaching. The ship with cross symbol signifies that the ship is a symbol of the church. This symbol may have been patterned after the ark of Noah, which bore God’s faithful to safety through the Flood. Jesus’ calming of the storm also helped to make the ship a symbol of safety and refuge. St. Ambrose compared the church to a ship, with the cross as its mast. The ship is also used as an attribute of several saints, such as St. Jude the apostle, Vincent and Nicholas of Myra (St. Nicholas). The central seating area of a large church is called the “nave”, which is Latin for ‘ship’. The Greek work ‘Oikoumene’ literally means “the whole inhabited world”. This word comes from the same root word as ‘ecumenical’. For United Methodists it reminds us that John Wesley said, “The world is my parish. “The ‘horseback rider’ symbol portrays John Wesley who traveled more than 250,000 miles on horseback to carry the Gospel throughout England.
The picture of John Wesley preaching is a symbol that may be a copy of a picture in the John Wesley Chapel in England. John Wesley is standing on the top on the tomb of his father, Samuel. When John was refused permission to preach to the congregation (because he was preaching Justification by faith) in what had been his father’s church, he stood on his father’s tomb outside the church and proclaimed the ‘radical’ gospel.
The stained glass in the present sanctuary is dedicated to the glory of God in memory of Marjorie & Charles Baugh, Mary Anna & Otto W. Seidenstricker, Dorothy Mae Brandeau, and John W. Buckner. These windows were designed by David Wixton & Associates and were dedicated on June 23, 2002
This stained glass design emphasizes the shape of the brickwork between the openings; the design forms a cross.
In the two upper sections, angels and trumpets are portraying worship in heaven which is to be imitated on Earth. The angels are kneeling in adoration to God; their wings symbolize their divine mission. The trumpets are symbolic of the heavenly choir.
In the lower left section, the Sacrament of Baptism is represented. The scallop shell, dripping water, is a symbol of baptism. In the Baptism of Christ, the scallop is held by John the Baptist. When Jesus was baptized, the heavens were opened and the Spirit of God descended upon Him like a dove.
In the lower right section, the Sacrament of Communion is symbolized by the wine and the bread. The wine represents the Cup of Salvation which is the Blood of Christ. The bread represents the Bread of Life which is the Body of Christ. They are depicted next to the kneeling Lamb identifying the submission of Jesus to His Father’s will. The title of “Lamb of God” was given to Jesus by John the Baptist, “Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world” (Jn. 1:29).
Historical Overview of First Church (A United Methodist Congregation) in Crystal Lake, Illinois
1836 – Crystal Lake is settled by the Beman & Polly Crandall family. Religious services held with Christopher Walkup, Uriah Cottle and A. W. Beardsley.
1839 – The Methodist Episcopal Society is organized in Crystal Lake, Illinois.
1840 – Membership is 51.
1846 – Log Cabin Church building is constructed on West corner of Virginia St. and McHenry Ave.
1855 – Railroad built thru town, the following year a spur is built down ‘Dole Ave.’ to Main Beach for ice removal for Chicago.
1858 – Another church building is purchased a little further West on Virginia St. across from McCormick Park for $1400.
1867 – Congregational Church building purchased for $400 and moved to the corner of Grant & Woodstock streets, Crystal Lake Methodists join the Nunda Methodists and worship in this new building.
1870 – Membership 77.
1873 – Methodist Church is built on the southwest corner of Brink & William St. (downtown) for a cost of $2500, and dedicated on 11/15/1874.
1898 – The Church is extensively remodeled including stained glass windows.
1899 – A parsonage is built across Williams Street from the front door of the church.
1912 – Membership 130.
1914 – Crystal Lake becomes incorporated as a city consolidating the villages of Crystal Lake and North Crystal Lake (Nunda)
1920 – The Downtown Church is remodeled – new entry, organ, and boiler. Membership is 120.
1926 – Boy Scouts of America charters with our church to form Troop 158, now the oldest Troop in McHenry County.
1936 – Crystal Lake population is 3724.
1948 – Membership is 365.
1949 – Celebrate 110 years in Crystal Lake and 75 years in our downtown building.
1952 – Purchased the initial 5 acres of land at Crystal Lake Ave. & Dole Ave. and planned the present church building.
1953 – Groundbreaking and construction begins for our present church building.
1954 – December 19th, the first worship service is held in the new sanctuary with Rev. Gil Weisshaar.
1955 – February 6th, formal opening of present church – First Methodist Church of Crystal Lake.
1958 – Parsonage built on Crystal Lake Ave. down from the church and across the street. Rev. Lloyd Coleman lived there.
1962 – Church School ‘Educational Wing’ and steeple added on to the building. Membership is 804.
1965 – Pre-School begins it’s first class (now oldest in the County), Church Membership is now 1064.
1966 – Dedication of Carillon Bells.
1968 – Methodists merge with Evangelical United Brethren and we become First United Methodist Church of Crystal Lake.
1969 – Original permanent brick sign built outside the sanctuary on Crystal Lake Ave.; Second parsonage purchased of Lincoln Pkwy. and occupied by Associate Pastor Wilber Hopkins.
1970 – The ‘First Addition’ – the Educational Wing – debt is paid off.
1971 – Worship in the Woods begins under the direction of Rev. Jim Paulson and Rev. Bob Baker.
1972 – Membership is 1280.
1973 – Poor Man’s Gourmet begins.
1974 – Lincoln Pkwy. Parsonage sold and 11 Dole Ave. bought, both occupied by Associate Pastor Bob & Jeanne Baker.
1975 – ‘United’ stone added to name of church by front entrance.
1976 – Church sign outside sanctuary is added onto; FUMC adopts Chilean Family – Juan & Judy Castillo with 2 children.
1977 – Church Camp Outs begin in various locations including Gov. Dodge St. Park, WI.
1978 – Sanctuary loft is remodeled and Casavant Tracker Organ is installed, choir moves to the loft after sanctuary altar area is remodeled. Dedication concert is held on September 16, 1979.
1984 – 200 Years of Methodism in America is celebrated.
1988 – Membership is 958.
1989 – Sesquicentennial is celebrated – 150 years of Methodism in Crystal Lake.
1990 – Disciple Bible Study begins with Pastor Ray Miller and Pastor Mike Marshall leading, ASP (Appalachian Service Project) began as Youth Mission to Harland County, KY.
1991 – Saturday Night Alive contemporary worship service is offered at 6 p.m. on Saturday, ASP changes to SWAP (Sharing With Appalachian People) as mission project for the Youth.
1992 – Ground is broken for New Sanctuary addition on October 11th.
1994 – First worship service held in new sanctuary on Mother’s Day. Cost is $2,100,000; Fourth of July Hot Dog Booth begins sponsored by Praise Team.
1995 – White Angel Project (with the U. of Chicago Hospital for kids with HIV/AIDS) begins.
1997 – CrossRoads contemporary worship service is offered at 11 a.m. on Sunday.
2001 – Advent by Candlelight begins, Nursing Home Ministry begins.
2002 – Stained Glass is added to front window of sanctuary and dedicated on June 3rd; Cross added to Chapel in the Woods.
2003 – Debt on entire facility is paid in full! Community Dinner begins in Wesley Hall.
2005 – Membership is 1188. Celebration of 50 years on present site, Sound Booth rebuilt & original taken to Hale Chapel; Hale Chapel windows replaced.
2006 – Columbarium dedicated on Aug. 27, Chapel in the Woods re-done.
2008 – Home Groups partner with Salvation Army Bell Ringing.
2009 – UMM builds first house in Moss Point, MS for Katrina victims (two additional homes built in years 2010 and 2011).
2012 – Stirred2Serve begins – church leaves the building and we go and pack meals for Haiti (also in 2013), UMM mission trip to Henryville IN.
2013 – Stephen Ministry begins again.
2014 – First United Methodist Church celebrates 175 years of Methodism in Crystal Lake; ‘First Church (A United Methodist Congregation)’ is adopted as new church name; the 1920 Boiler is replaced. Summoned2Serve (renamed from Stirred2Serve) packs 100,000 meals for Haiti.
(Published on November 19,1989)
Over 150 years ago the first settlers came to Crystal Lake and found it to be a good place to live. Not long after December, 1835, when George Stickney came to what is now Nunda Township, Christopher Walkup, Uriah Cottle, and A.W. Beardsley arrived and became instrumental in establishing the community’s first church which was known as the Virginia Church. This was a nondenominational body formed to serve the religious needs of the area and named after the area from which many of the early settlers came. The organizational meetings for the Virginia Church was held in the home of Uriah Cottle, a Methodist, and the community’s first religious service was held in the home of Christopher Walkup.
In 1839, the Methodist Episcopal Society in Crystal Lake was organized and served as the center of the Crystal Lake Circuit of the Des Plaines Conference. By the following year the membership was 51. In 1841 Methodist Camp Meetings were held in a wooded area near what is now the Community of Woodstock. By 1846, services were being held in a log cabin at the Northwest corner of McHenry Avenue and Virginia Streets.
In 1858, a church was built at a cost of $1,400 on Virginia Street across from what is now McCormick Park. However, most of the members lived in Nunda so a hall was soon rented there, and for a time services were held in two locations by Methodists of the area. The union of those two congregations came at about the same time that the villages of Nunda and Crystal Lake joined to become one. The community, incidentally, also had other names during this period; and various parts of it, from time to time, were known as Crystalville, Brooklyn, North Crystal Lake, Nunda, and Crystal Lake.
In 1867, the Old Congregational Church building was purchased, and it was later sold to the German Lutheran Congregation for $400. In 1870, this church building was sold to Josiah Walkup who had it moved to the present site of the Pingry Hotel and had it remodeled into a residential dwelling.
In 1873, a new church was built at the Northwest corner of Brink and Williams Streets at the site of the present Brink Street Market. This church was built at a cost of $2500 and was dedicated on November 15, 1874. It became the nucleus of the facilities which were to serve the Methodist congregation for the next eighty years.
A three-story, five-bedroom parsonage was built in 1899 at the Southwest corner of Brink and Williams Streets and was used until 1954. The late Ruby Vera Curtiss lived in this parsonage from 1921 to 1925 when here father was pastor of the church, and it was in this parsonage that she was married to Mr. Earle Curtiss whose name is still active on the rolls for the First United Methodist Church of Crystal Lake. In the mid-1950’s, the parsonage was moved to 20 Paddock Street and continued to be used as a parsonage until shortly before the new parsonage was built.
The 1873 church was extensively remodeled in 1898 and again in 1920. In the latter remodeling, a new pipe organ was dedicated. The church then boasted a membership of about 200, and the familiar spire of this church could be seen from almost any approach to Crystal Lake as it extended above the surrounding trees and buildings. It had become a landmark of Crystal Lake.
When it became apparent that new facilities were needed to serve the growing congregation and the growing community, the church property was sold to Mr. Lester Geiseke. When it came time to demolish the church, the building was “put up for grabs” – free to the party who would haul it away from its site in the heart of Crystal Lake’s expanding business district. Saved from the demolishers were some of the stained glass windows, the bell, and a few of the pipes from the organ, some of which were used in the organ in the new church. The downtown church became known as “the little white church surrounded by parking meters.”
In 1945, Rev. Gilbert Weisshaar assumed the ministry of the church immediately after completing seminary and served until 1958. In 1948, the membership was listed at 365, with 25% of the increase having been in the previous four years, and by 1952, it was apparent that expanded church facilities were needed. A $200,000 church was designed by architects Stade and Cooley. With income from the sale of the downtown properties and $30,000 of advance gifts pledged by 24 members, it was decided to go full speed ahead.
An initial pledge goal of $70,000 was set, and 200 members and friends gathered at the new site at the junction of Crystal Lake Avenue, Dole Avenue, and Pine Court in October of 1952, Formal Ground Breaking was broken April 11, 1953 (Palm Sunday), and the cornerstone was laid in July, 1954. The first formal services in the new church were held on February 5, 1955. As members and visitors entered the narthex of the new church, they were greeted by the beloved and familiar Good Shepherd window from the downtown church which had been incorporated into the new building.
A new parsonage was designed by member Fred Lindsay, and ground was broken for the building at 303 W. Crystal Lake Avenue on August 31, 1958. This parsonage was first occupied by Reverend Lloyd Coleman in January, 1959.
It was during the years of 1953 to 1968 under the pastoral leadership of Reverend Weisshaar, Reverend Coleman and Reverend John Figley that the church continued its rapid forward movement. Memorial pews replaced the original chairs, memorial lights replaced the original lighting in the sanctuary, and a pipe organ with chimes and a memorial carillion added reverence and beauty to the church. In addition to the original four and a half acres, three more lots were purchased to give the church a large area for parking and recreational purposes. A new addition gave the church school additional space for twelve classrooms, a beautiful memorial chapel, a pastor’s study, a library, and much needed storage space.
In these past two decades under the leadership of Reverend James Paulson, Reverend Eugene Wykle, Reverend Ray Rhoads, and current pastor Reverend Ray Miller, First Church has continued to be a place where God is working mightily. The church was newly carpeted, pews were cushioned, grounds were landscaped, a new organ and sound system were installed, and the loft was remodeled to accommodate the choir and to provide additional seating for an expanding congregation. Plans are currently underway as the church enters the dace of the 90’s for an expanded and even more beautiful outdoor chapel.
Thus, as we celebrate our Sesquicentennial on November 19, 1989, we offer thanks to God for what has been, what is, and what is yet to be in the First United Methodist Church of Crystal Lake which has stood firmly on the promises for the last 150 years.