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.
“Just as the body cannot exist without blood, so the soul needs the matchless and pure strength of faith.”
Country Church: North Grove Evangelical Church • Est. 1860
10384 W. Coffman Road, Forreston, Ill., (815) 938-2194
The roots for this church were planted around 1845, by settlers, several of German descent, who formed a Christian fellowship. Many wrote to and were joined by relatives from the Lippe-Detmold area of Germany, earning the group the nickname “Lippurs,” referring to that region and its dialect. Descendants of these families – Runte, Richter, Brockmeier, Ratmeyer, Biesemeier, Kilker and more – still live in the area.
The group held services first in the home of the Kaney family, and then in the Green Prairie schoolhouse, served by a Freeport pastor.
The congregation began to formally organize in 1860, led by the Rev. William Kampmeier, also from Lippe-Detmold, who brought the North Grove members together with a congregation from nearby Adeline. They purchased land for a church for $50, and construction began in the summer of 1861.
Stone for the building was quarried in Adeline and hauled to North Grove in carts pulled by oxen or horses. Members of the congregation covered the building costs of $2,745 and did most of the work. The church was dedicated in February 1862. A parsonage and schoolhouse were also erected here, and a cemetery established.
The same church is still in use today, its members coming from Forreston and Freeport. A kitchen, basement, office and classroom were added in the 1960s; otherwise, the space remains largely unchanged.
Pastor Tim Hotchkiss holds Sunday School at 9 a.m. and worship service at 10 a.m. each week.
City Church: First Presbyterian Church of Dixon • Est. 1853
110 E. 3rd St., Dixon, Ill., (815) 284-7741, fpcdixon.com
The First Presbyterian Church was organized in Dixon in 1853, and its first building dedicated on Feb. 17, 1856. Just 28 by 42 feet, the small brick building was located on property adjoining the present church structure. Shortly afterward, a group of New England Congregationalists disbanded and joined the Presbyterians, requiring the group to seek larger quarters.
In 1858, the Presbyterians moved to a building located in North Dixon formerly occupied by the Unitarians. The second pastor of the church was installed in June 1863 and served 32 years, the longest pastorate record for the church. During his tenure, the membership doubled in size, and in 1866, the present church was constructed of dressed Trenton limestone, at a reported cost of $5,000.
An addition was constructed in 1897, at a cost of $3,500. An educational wing was added in 1952. A distinctive feature is a 130 foot bell tower with a bell weighing over 2,000 pounds; it was converted to an automated system in 1969.
Major renovations of the sanctuary, narthex, seven classrooms, offices, nursery and social hall took place between 1992-1999; a parking lot was installed following the demolition of two adjacent buildings, and the organ upgraded to 25 ranks.
Today, Pastor David Spaulding leads a congregation of 181 active members. Sunday worship is held at 9:30 a.m. followed by fellowship and Sunday School.