Mind & Spirit

Country Church/City Church

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“Faith is not something to grasp; it is a state to grow into.” –Mohandas Gandhi

Organized religion plays a major role in the culture of our Northern Illinois/Southern Wisconsin region. We enjoy highlighting places of worship, one in the country and one in the city, in each issue.

Sugar Creek Lutheran Church, Elkhorn, Wis.

Country Church

Sugar Creek Lutheran Church
Est. 1849 • N5690 Cobblestone Road, Elkhorn, Wis. • (262) 728-2222 • sugarcreeklutheran.org

The first big influx of Norwegians to America was in 1825. The first Norwegian settlement in Wisconsin was in 1839; By the 1850s, 8,600 Norwegians lived there.

This church was organized by eight families in the mid 1840s, and though they rarely had a pastor, they met each Sunday for worship in each other’s homes. The first recorded service was Aug. 6, 1849, and included a funeral service at a nearby farm.

The first church building was 18×24 feet, constructed in 1851 of oak that was hauled by oxen from woods near Palmyra. The front end sat lower than the back, on a knoll now marked by a gravestone of one of the early founders, Ole Hanson.Eight people received the Eucharist at that first service; by June 1850, there were 54. The congregation dedicated a new church in 1881; now known as the “Old Church,” it’s still used for services Memorial Day through Labor Day.

In 1861, Sugar Creek was one of the founding congregations of Luther College in Decorah, Iowa.

The members built a modern brick church in 1978 and added a second floor in 1992. Today, confirmed membership is 761, led by Pastor Gerald Petersen., with an average weekly attendance of 204.

September through May, Sunday services are at 8 and 10:30 a.m., with fellowship and Sunday School at 9:15 a.m.; June through August they’re at 8 and 9:30 a.m. All year, Praise Band worship is held on Saturday at 5:30 p.m. ❚

St. Patrick Parish, Dixon, Ill.

City Church

St. Patrick Parish
Est. 1854 • 612 Highland Ave., Dixon, Ill. • (815) 284-7719 • stpatrickdixon.org

The original 25 families that made up this church met in the city court house until 1854, when the bishop in Chicago sent them a resident priest. The first frame church was built then, on Highland Avenue.

In 1872, members began construction of a new brick church, with a choir loft, organ, beautiful stained glass windows, and steeple with bell. Total cost, including altar furnishings, was around $30,000, with seating for 600. When that was dedicated, in 1873, membership was 200 families, and the pastor, Fr. McDermott, opened a school in the old frame church building, run by Dominican nuns from Wisconsin.

The school closed in 1883, but when a new pastor arrived in 1892, it reopened. A growing student population required more space, so plans were laid to buy land adjacent to the church, at the corner of Peoria and 7th streets. Legend has it that, after the pastor faced many obstacles, he buried a religious medal on the site, and was then able to buy the property. Current school enrollment is 213 students, pre-K to eighth grade.

After 138 years, the church looks almost exactly as it did in 1873. In 1985, a parish meeting space, Holloway Center, was added on to the north side. Renovations and redecorating inside have taken place over the years, most recently in 1998.

Today, the parish has 820 families registered, led by Fr. James Keenan, pastor. Mass times: Sat., 4:30 p.m.; Sun., 8 and 10:30 a.m.; Wed.-Fri.,7:30 a.m.; Tues., 8:15 a.m. ❚

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