Organized religion played a major role in the settling of Illinois and continues to impact our region in many ways. We enjoy highlighting places of worship and their work both at home and abroad.
Luther Valley Lutheran Church • Est. 1844
7107 S. Luther Valley Road, Beloit, (608) 879-2934, luthervalley.com
The year 1844 marks a very early stage of settlement in our region, but that’s when the founders of this church began gathering in homes to worship. Today, this busy little country church has resumed weekly Sunday services after doing virtual services during the summer due to COVID-19. It observes careful safety protocols such as spaced-apart seating and no group singing. People can also drive to the parking lot and listen to the service broadcast live on FM 92.5, with communion delivered to their car in a disposable cup. Communion is observed the first Sunday of each month.
This E.L.C.A. Lutheran church serves its neighbors near and far with participation in local and international charitable actions. It works with Family Promise to help families with children who are homeless or insecure in their housing. It also works with the C.U.P. food pantry in Orfordville, Wis., run entirely by volunteers.
In global outreach, the church assists school children in need by assembling supply kits that are distributed through Lutheran World Relief. It also supports the work of Heifer International, which equips small family farms by supplying them with animals, seeds and technology.
The church also sponsors a bell choir, quilting group, confirmation classes and Naomi Circle, a group for parents who have lost babies.
Services take place each Sunday at 9 a.m. with Sunday School at 9:45 a.m.
Centennial Multicultural United Methodist Church • Est. 1836
1503 Broadway St., Rockford, (815) 397-277, CentennialUMCRockford.org
As one of the oldest congregations in Rockford, this church has evolved to serve the changing needs of its community. It has always embraced people newly arrived to Rockford and recently changed its name to reflect its rich cultural history.
Church founders first met in homes in 1836, very soon after the community was settled in 1834-1835 by Germanicus Kent, Thatcher Blake and Lewis Lemon. They built a church on South Second Street in 1848 in what we know today as Haight Village, welcoming various waves of immigrants decade after decade.
By 1976, the church established a ministry for our growing population of Spanish-speaking residents. After structural problems arose in its aging building, the congregation moved to the Broadway Street location in 2013. Services are offered both in English and Spanish.
Since 1996, the congregation has been known for its Saturday Kids Club, a free, arts-based, year-round outreach program for neighborhood children. It’s also known for its Taste of Centennial event, which began as a special way to celebrate its 175th anniversary. Each spring, church members showcase artifacts, clothing and cuisine from their ancestral lands. Countries represented have included The British Isles, Chile, Germany, Guatemala, Honduras, Jamaica, Mexico, Norway, Puerto Rico, Sudan and Sweden.
The church is led by the Rev. Uziel Hernandez Martinez with assistance from retired pastor the Rev. Keith Kelsey-Powell.
English worship services are Sundays at 10 a.m. followed by Spanish language services at 11:30 a.m. Consult the church’s website to learn what activities may be suspended or held virtually due to the pandemic.