Genealogy and History
Part of the Genealogy Trails History Group
Bethany United Church of Christ
2341 West Shephenson Street
Contributed by Jessy Moyer
Dedication April 22-23 1989
6:00 Touring of Building - Getting Acquainted
6:30 "Welcome" - Kim Grimes, Master of Ceremnies
Invocation - Dr. George Jorenby
7:30 Singing to the Lord going to the Sanctuary
"Onward Christian Soldiers"
Reflections: Dr. George Jorenby - Rev. Joe Gronenberg
"Open Up Your Heart and Let The Sun Shine In"
"Build Upon House Upon the Lord"
Reflections: Rev. Gus Bloom and Rev. George Busekros
Junior Choir: "If You Believe"
Reflections: Rev. Armin Munz and Rev. Lavon Baylor (Air Conference Minister)
Closing Prayer - The Lord's Prayer (Sung by all)
9:00 Sunday School
9:30 Coffee Fellowship
10:00 Burying of the Time Capsule and Baloon Launch
10:30 Worship Service - Message by Bob Meisner (Associate COnference Minister)
Why Was The English Reformed Church Founded?
As people moved to Freeport, they found themselves without a Reformed Church that spoke English. The only Reformed Church in Freeport used German. The Illinois Classis of the Reformed Church, holding its annual meeting in June, 1905 at Dakota, IL appointed a committee to investigate the feasibility of starting an English Reformed Church in Freeport. A Theological Seminary student in Ohio, C. G. Beaver, was entrusted with the work. He began by getting a Sunday School started during the summer of 1906. They met in the Third Presbyterian Church in July of 1906 (presently the Greek Orthodox Church, corner of Galena and Pleasant St.)
On October 7, 1906 Rev. R. F. Schultz took up the work with the intention of establishing a church. The congregation was George Schoney, Mr. & Mrs. John Brown, Mr. & Mrs. Simon Brown, Mr. & Mrs. John Richards, Mrs. Nellie Potter, Mrs. Frank Shelley, Mrs. Rebecca Ditzler, Mrs. Geroge Springman. Rev. Schultz served only 2 months.
Rev. C. M. Rohrbaugh became the new pastor in December, 1906 with a membership of sixteen members with an average age over sixty-five years.
The corner of South Galena and South Carroll was purchased from the Barnes family in April, 1908. A property owner, Mr. McCarthy was bitterly opposed to the erection of a church on the property. He claimed that it would depreciate the value of his property. He would have preferred to have had the lot remain as it was or converted into a park. The ground contained a number of huge elm trees of special beauty to to which the residents had become very attached, and it was their desire that they should not be cut down at any expense. Would Rev.Rohrbaugh sell the property for a price? Yes, $2,500. The pastor added in addition to other statements, that he had canvassed the city for a good location, and none suited his purpose better than the Carroll Street Property. He was especially desirous of getting away from the distinctively "Church District", as it was the opinion of many people that there were enough churches in Freeport. By establishment of a church in this location, this objectionable feature would be solved. Membership in 1908 was sixty members. (August Christen said this corner was picked because the street car stopped here.)
The ground breaking was Easter Sunday, April 13, 1908. The building was erected during the summer of 1908, six months after ground breaking.
The cost to build was between $16,000 and $18,000. How did they finance the building? $10,000 was given by the Board of Home Missions of the Reformed Church. (The church was supported by the Home Missions.) Some funds were secured from local congregations and other sources. The dedication was November 29, 1908 which has been the anniversary date of the church. It was a rainy day with more than 200 people in attendance. The dedication offering amounted to $1,100 leaving a debt of $5,000. The debt was paid off in six years. The church became self-supporting in 1923.
The building committee was composed of Rev. Rohrbaugh, George Schoney, John Richard, Adam Zimmerman, Adam Epley and Frank Brandt. The Consistory held its first meeting November 27, 1906, It consisted of one Elder, George Schoney and one Deacon, John Richards. The first Holy Communion was held July 7, 1907. The laying of the corner stone was held June 15, 1908. The first service was held in the church basement on November 1, 1908. Electricity was installed by the Men's Bible Class in September, 1918.
The first parsonage, located on Carroll Street next door to the church was purchased in 1919 for $6,200 (including improvements) from Mrs. Young. The bell was put on the roof of the Tower Room on June 6, 1921. Junior Deacons were added to the Consistory December, 1921 for a period of 1 year and 2 years. They had to be under the age of 25. This was repealed in 1925. The organ was installed and dedicated September 15, 1920.
Two services were held in the early years of the church, one in the morning and one in the evening. Both sermons were different. The Consistory voted to install an oil-burning furnace January, 1938. The summer of 1940 saw the start of a summer exchange with St. John Church with the pastor of Bethany preaching the month of August and St. John's pastor preaching the month of July. This summer exchange continued until 1978 with some variations.
In 1956 the property at 1419 S. High St. was purchased as a new parsonage for $19,000. The Carroll Street parsonage served as a pastor's study and Sunday School rooms for the children from 1956 to 1989. At the present time this building has not been sold.
The name was changed from First English Reformed to First English Evangelical & Reformed and in January, 1958, it was changed to Bethany United Church of Christ.
The Long Range Committee was organized in April, 1967. Its purpose was to see what could be done on a long range scale. A study of the city was made in September, 1967. A representative of the United Church of Christ, Mr. Whitehead, recommended we buy the land at the corner of West Street and the Belt Line (South Street) now the corner of Eagle's and Osco Drug. The by-laws were changed in 1971 to have women serve on the board. Mrs. Gerald Kutz was the first woman to serve on the board. (15 women have served on the board since the by-laws were changed).
March 25, 1979 the congregation gave the Long Range Committee approval to buy some land. September 7, 1980 the congregation voted to buy 5.2 acres of land on West Stephenson Street on contract from Mrs. Sullivan. The congregation voted to discontinue the contract and pay the balance in full in May, 1983.
In 1981 Mrs. Gerald (Kathryn) Kutz was elected the first woman president of the Consistory.
In 1984 the New Land Committee was established. The purpose of this committee was to gather all information possible both for and against the building of a new church. Over the course of 16 months, many meetings and numerous new churches in our area were visited. In April the New Land committee was dissolved at their request. A second committee was formed to find a contractor. Steve Ostergard of Shannon was selected. A final vote was taken April 19, 1987 to see if we should proceed with building of a new church. (Results 122 yes, 15 no). The cost was estimated at $665,000. While construction was in progress, the congregation voted to add an overflow area (balcony) at an additional cost of $7,000.
Ground breaking for the Stephenson Street location was June 7, 1987.
The High Street parsonage was sold to Mr. & Mrs. Brian Earnest in the spring of 1987. A new parsonage was bought at 48 N. Park Blvd. in October, 1987
The stained glass windows depicting Christ as a child of 12 and as an adult were removed from the Carroll Street church and mounted on each side of the pulpit in the new Stephenson Street church with artificial lighting behind. The organ, four pulpit chairs and the carillon were moved to our new location. The communion table and pulpit were moved to be used in Fellowship Hall. A new communion table, pulpit and baptismal font have been purchased to match the new pews.a
The last service at the Carroll and Galena location was held February 12, 1989. The first service at the Stephenson Street location was held Febraury 19, 1989 in Fellowship Hall even though it was not completed.
March 15, 1989 was the closing date for the sale of the Carroll and Galena Street property to the Friendship Missionary Baptist Church.
Dedication for our new church on Stephenson Street has been scheduled for April 23, 1989.
Requests used to Purchase Land - Amy Clark and Ernest & Gladys Holland
MEMORIALS USED TOWARD NEW CHURCH BUILDING CONSTRUCTION
Lenora Meyer * Cleone Burckhardt * Belva Winter * Lucille Stephens * Ena Guyer * Edna Cox * Henry Dirksen * Theodore Conody * Buessie Meyers * William Prasse * Neva Winter * Ben Rush * John Klever * Marion Young * Jessie Wirsing * Anna Cole * Wilma Schultz * Robert Heck * Clarence Myers * Ed Boos * Art Scofield * Belva Winter - Bequest * Karl peterson - Bequest * Lenora Meyer - Bequest
Light Fixtures - Sanctuary -- Art Scofield, Charlotte Ross, Roscoe WMitchell, Harold Wachin, Helen Ackerman
Pulpit, Communion Table, Inside Cross, Combination Rack & Registry
Pulpit Furtiture Upholstery - John Cohlmorgan
Baptismal Font - Stella Deal
Eternal Sanctuary Lamp - Clarence and Bearl Jacobs / Martin and Stella Kortemeier
Telephone System - WIlliam and Anna Schweitzer
Outside Building Cross - Robert Heck
Stained Glass-Sanctuary - Henry and Martha Dirksen
Library Conference Table & Chairs - Art Nienbuis / Amy Clark
Sunday School Furnishings - Jessie Swank
Outdoor Lighted Sign - Mr. and Mrs. John Molter Sr. / John Molter Jr. and Mr. and Mrs. Irvin Winter
Foyer Bulletin Board - Pearl Jacobs / Helen Ackerman
Landscaping - Edna Brookman
CONTRACTORS: Ostergard Construction - General Contractor
Tipton's Digging Service
James Lawson - Cement Contractor
Loescher Heating and Air Conditioning
Value House Carpets
Miller and Mahoney - Brick Work
Dan Peterson - Sound
House of Charles - Stained Glass
Don Diestelmeier - Organ
Benson Stone Co. Rockford IL - Brick
Bee Line Service - Cement
Gunder Mfg. Humboldt IA - Pews
Fullerton Lumber Co.
J.H. Patterson Lumber Co.
Carlson Distributors Rockford IL - Roofing
Citation Distributors ROckford IL - Cabinets
Rock River Distributors, Rockford IL - Millwork
Sunday April 30, 1989 1-4 p.m.
Host and Hostess
Dr. & Mrs. George Jorenby
David and Shirley Engling
Cliff and Jean Stout
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