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 in each issue.
Ebenezer Reformed Church • Est. 1869
2997 N. German Church Road, Oregon, Ill., (815) 732-6313, ebenezerreformed.com
Before becoming an official church, a group of local German immigrants met regularly for prayer. After about 20 years of worshipping in residents’ homes, they learned a small schoolhouse was available, so they moved services there and became recognized as an official church in 1869.
Several people led services until 1874, when the church declared the first pastor to be the Rev. L. Watermulder. One year later, members realized a need for construction of additional space to accommodate the growing congregation, and a church was built on the property which is now directly across from the current building.
The initial setup of the church included a partition that separated men and women during services. The services were originally spoken in High German, reflecting the German immigrants’ home language.
The congregation broke ground for a new building on May 12, 1968, and a dedication was held exactly one year later. This development provided enough time for the congregation to commemmorate its 100th anniversary at the new building.
In 2004-05, a 8,146-square-foot structure was attached to the church, providing eight classrooms for Sunday School and a large Family Life Center to host events.
Ebenezer, which translates to “Stone of Help,” partners with many local organizations, including the Rockford Rescue Mission and Jackson County Ministries. The youth group, Ladies Aid society, work camp programs and other church groups have contributed to these organizations and many more over the years.
The Rev. Josiah Youngquist leads Sunday worship in-person and online at 10 a.m. Past sermons are recorded and posted on the church’s website and YouTube channel.
St. Clare of Assisi Catholic Parish • Est. mid-1800s
1760 14th St., Monroe, Wis., stclaregreencounty.org, (608) 325-9506
The Roman Catholic Parish of St. Clare of Assisi traces its roots to the mid-1800s when Irish-Americans established St. Victor’s Parish. In 2011, the parish merged with St. Rose of Lima, in Brodhead, Wis., and assumed the new name of St. Clare of Assisi.
The parish of 900 households serves Green County and beyond, including residents in northern Illinois, with St. Victor church in Monroe and St. Rose of Lima church at 1005 W. Second Ave., in Brodhead.
The parish has operated St. Victor School for ages K-5 since 1916. The school is located at 1416 20th Ave. in Monroe and its curriculum includes religion and Spanish language along with other core subjects. There are about 140 students enrolled and the teacher-to-student ratio is 1:13.
This parish is involved in helping people in Honduras and Tanzania to access clean water through the Sister Water Project begun by Franciscan Sisters in Dubuque, Iowa. The cost of one well is $5,500, and St. Clare Parish has so far purchased 15 wells since it joined this project.
The church building in Monroe was constructed in 1893 after an earlier one was destroyed by fire.
Fr. Larry M. Baake, who was ordained as a priest in 1975, leads the parish. He also serves as the director of the Apostolate for Persons with Disabilities in the Catholic Diocese of Madison.
St. Victor’s is open for in-person Mass, Sun. at 8 a.m. and 10 a.m., Tues. and Thurs. at 5:15 p.m., Fri. at 8 a.m. and Sat. at 4:30 p.m. Mass is also held at St. Rose of Lima Wed. at 8 a.m.
Find live and recorded Mass online at the church’s YouTube page.