“For me, even as behind, God is, and all is well.” –John Greenleaf Whittier
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.
Davis United Methodist Church of Herbert • Est. 1891
129 Herbert Road, Kingston, Ill. (815) 547-5683
This congregation celebrated its 120th anniversary in June. The “Davis” in the church’s name isn’t for a town, but for a person: Joel Davis, Sr., one of the early and prominent citizens of the Village of Herbert. He came to Boone County from England in 1850 with his wife and 14 children. The Genoa Road property on which the church was constructed in 1891 was donated by Davis.
The process was quick. The church was formally organized in the home of Mr. & Mrs. S.F. Hall in February 1891; the building was completed in August 1891; a Thanksgiving Festival, held in Fall 1891, raised the funds that paid everything off.
In 1919, it was decided to move the church structure to its current location, just a few miles away, to property donated by Mr. & Mrs. Nathan Sheley. A team of horses turned a capstan which pulled the building down the road. The move took a full month longer than expected, but the congregation met for services in the church during that time anyway.
The building has undergone several renovations and changes since then. But many of the church-goers are descended from original members. Pastor Jackie Wills, a Belvidere native raised in the church at Davis UMC, leads an active congregation of 50. Sunday service, with an average weekly attendance of 30, is held at 9 a.m., with a simultaneous Sunday school for ages 2-12. ❚
St. James Catholic Church • Est. 1851
535 Caswell St., Belvidere, Ill. (815) 547-6397, stjamesbelvidere.org
The first resident pastor of Belvidere was appointed in 1851, although Catholic services had been held by visiting priests in people’s homes since 1838.
That first appointed priest, and his successor, had no actual church in Belvidere, where they resided; they traveled to Rockford and Marengo to say Mass. During the late 1850s, Belvidere’s third priest lived in Rockford.
In 1860, a lot at the corner of Church and Caswell streets in Belvidere was donated and a church erected, although its pastor still lived in Rockford. It wasn’t until 1864 that Belvidere had a resident priest once again.
A rectory was built in 1872. Construction on the present stone church began in 1886; it was dedicated in 1889. In 1909, a four-room parochial school was built and a convent purchased for the nuns who would run it. Both the rectory and church have undergone several renovations over the years. A basement and parish hall were completed in 1954, and a four-room school addition and new convent came in 1958. Improvements from 1979 to 1985 included redecorating the church; installing a new roof on both the church and school; paving a parking lot behind the church; and sandblasting the exterior of the church. A new parish center, with a commercial kitchen, library/resource room, pre- and kindergarten classrooms, offices and meeting rooms, was completed in 1994.
Today’s congregation of more than 2,000 families is led by The Rev. Brian Geary, pastor. Daily Mass is held in English Mon.-Thurs. at 7:30 a.m. and Fri. at 8:45 a.m. Weekend services in English: Sat. at 4 and 5:30 p.m.; Sun. at 7, 8:30, 10 and 11:30 a.m. Services in Spanish: Thurs. at 6:30 p.m.; Sun. at 1:15 and 6 p.m. ❚