Organized religion played a major role in the settling of Illinois and continues to influence the culture of our region. We enjoy highlighting places of worship, one in the country and one in the city, in each issue.
Country Church: Swiss United Church of Christ • Est. 1845
18 Fifth Ave., New Glarus, Wis., (608) 527-2119, swisschurch.org
It may be hard to purchase a piece of property today for $15,000, but in 1900, that’s all it took to build the current Swiss United Church of Christ building. The grassy slope outside the historic building is a cemetery.
In the beginning, church services were conducted in German, the native tongue of most members. By 1924, services were conducted in English once a month. The English-speaking services expanded and by 1950, German services were no longer offered.
Swiss United participates in mission and outreach programs, such as the Caring for Kids program, which helps to meet the needs of elementary and middle school students in the New Glarus School District. It provides school supplies, winter clothing and the Food for Kids backpack program, which provides food for children.
The church also works with the Salvation Army. A bell ringing campaign is coordinated each year and members from the congregation get involved.
On Oct. 9, the church welcomed the Rev. Kim Moeller as its new pastor. She previously enjoyed a secular career in Silicon Valley, Calif.
Worship services are held Sundays at 9 a.m. at the church and at 10:45 a.m. at New Glarus Home Chapel, 600 Second Ave., New Glarus.
City Church: Centennial United Methodist Church • Est. 1836
1503 Broadway, Rockford, (608) 325-2165, centennialumcrockford.org
he faces and location have changed, during 180 years at Centennial United Methodist Church, but one thing remains the same: Being of service to the Rockford area has always been a high priority for this congregation.
Centennial United Methodist Church is well known for its outreach efforts, including The Saturday Kids Club, which welcomes children from the neighborhood and nearby public housing. Local children eat breakfast and lunch at the church, while participating in art projects and character-building activities.
In the Sidewalk Hospitality program, adults and children from the congregation pass out water, lemonade and cookies to pedestrians on Saturdays.
The multicultural church offers an English-as-a-Second-Language program and a Hispanic Ministry, since it serves a large Spanish-speaking population on Rockford’s southeast side.
Roughly 60 pastors have served at Centennial, which is one of the longest-serving churches in Rockford. Some have stayed for a generation, others for a few years.
After 165 years of worshiping on South Second Street, the congregation decided, in 2013, to move to its current location on Broadway due to several issues with the old building.
The Rev. Fabiola Grandon-Mayer leads Sunday worship services, which are held at 10 a.m. in English and at 11:30 a.m. in Spanish.