Historical Remarks for February 6, 2005
Today we celebrate the 50th Anniversary of our church at this location, the corner of Dole and Crystal Lake Avenues. The Methodist Church is the oldest church body in Crystal Lake. Our roots go back to 1836 when members first met in homes.
History is important to us for many reasons; it defines who we are, it supplies the backbone for an organization, and it creates for many of us a link with the past. One of our local historians said that the early churches in this community were the glue that held this community together.
For many of you, your history is just beginning in this church, but some of us go back a long way. Let’s see – all of you who have been members of this church for more than 30 years please raise your hand. How many of you have been members here for less than 5 years?
History has a strange way of affecting us all. Pastor John Figley who served here from 1962 – 1968 married Dave & Bonnie Seyller down in Aurora!
Fred Etheridge is the only surviving member of the original executive committee who planned and coordinated the building of this present church. Bob Visin was also instrumental in the early years
Let’s look at some moments of our history that brought us to this place – from the downtown Crystal Lake location to this one in the “country”:
Our first church in 1846 was a log cabin on the corner of McHenry Ave. and Virginia St. A car repair establishment is currently there.
Our next church, 1858, was further up on Virginia overlooking McCormick Park, probably on the site where the Mobil Service Station is now.
Back then there were two parts of this town – generally north of Crystal Lake Ave. was the town of Nunda (Nun – day), and south of that line was Crystal Lake. There were more Methodists in Nunda and they wanted to worship closer to their homes so they rented a hall for worship. Around 1867 the Crystal Lake Methodists joined them.
In 1870 they sold their building to Josiah Walkup who moved it to Grant & Woodstock St. where it later became the Pingry Hotel, now a condominium complex.
In 1873 a new church was built in downtown Crystal Lake at the corner of Brink & Williams Streets, the current site of Genovese Restaurant. In 1898, the church was expanded to include the beautiful stained glass windows, and a three-story parsonage, which was built across the street from the church, the current site of the recently closed Steven Edwards men’s store. In 1920, the church was again remodeled to include a new entry, pipe organ, and boiler.
In 1952, the members decided it was time for a move as the church was getting hemmed in by stores, parking meters, and too many cars, and there was a rapid expansion of membership. George DeBeer, father of Joanna Ladd, went out to the country and secured the land needed for a new church.
Raymond Colby, father of Gail Hopkins, was one of the Stewards of the church. Gail shared the fact that their home was right in back of the church and remembers pulling the long rope that rang the church bell up in the steeple. Gail and Al were the first couple married in our new sanctuary and will celebrate their Golden Anniversary in just a few months.
Fred Etheridge served on the Board of Trustees. He was on several planning committees and was in charge of furnishings for the new church. Because the pews had not arrived, he and his committee went out and purchased the folding chairs for the sanctuary at $3.68 each. Fred has lots of stories about the downtown church, the move, and the beginnings of this church.
In order to have the money to put down for the new church, the parsonage was sold in 1953 and moved to Paddock St. where it currently is today. Their pastor lived in the Pingry Hotel until the parsonage was ready to be occupied. The downtown church was torn down in December of 1954 and became a parking lot for the Jewel Food Store that was there at the time. Currently, Genovese Restaurant occupies the space where our church once stood.
The very first service of this new church was in December of 1954, with folding chairs and a full choir. As members entered the new church, the ‘Good Shepherd’ stained glass window from the downtown church greeted them. The Formal Opening Ceremony was on February 6th, 1955 – exactly 50 years ago.
Since moving to this site – a new parsonage was built on Crystal Lake Ave in 1958. Bob Vison was chair of that committee. That parsonage was recently sold in 2000.
An Education Wing was added to this church in 1962 to give us another 12 Sunday School rooms and office space.
In 1966, an Americana Carillon of 75 bells was added.
In 1969, our first Associate Pastor, “Hoppie” arrived and a second parsonage was purchased on Lincoln Pkwy. When Rev. Bob Baker came to us in 1971, he and Jeanne lived there until 1974 when our current parsonage on Dole Ave. was purchased.
Worship in the Woods was started around 1971 by Rev. Jim Paulson. Pretty humble beginning as we brought lawn chairs or blankets to sit on and there was no electricity. In the next several years, benches were built, an altar replaced the old damaged fireplace, electrics were added, and just a couple years ago, a cross was erected by the Lindley family.
Rev. Gene Wykle arrived in 1973. He was our first pastor from the Evangelical United Brethren denomination. A ‘UNITED’ stone was added to our sign just outside the old front doors in 1975.
In 1979, the upper loft of the original sanctuary was remodeled and a new Casavant Tracker organ was installed. Ollie Mayes was instrumental in this entire process including the building of the organ. Since the organ was moved to this new sanctuary, Zimbelstern bells and Henderson horns have been added as memorial gifts.
Rev. Rick Carlson arrived in 1981 and took loving care of our church and of pastor Gene Wykle as Gene became ill and gradually too sick to preach.
Rev. Ray Rhodes arrived in 1984 and took us on a scholastic biblical journey.
Rev. Mike Marshall arrived in 1987 replacing Rev. Peter Ferguson who was our associate pastor for just a few years. Mike looked so young that he really blended in with our youth ministry.
Rev. Ray Miller arrived in 1989 and took us on the next step of our growth journey. The Saturday Night Alive, – a praise and worship service, was started in 1991.
Later, in 1991, as we were becoming too crowded again, plans were made to add a new sanctuary. Ground was broken on October 11th, 1992, and we had our formal opening on Mother’s Day 1994.
In 1994 Rev. David Eichelberger joined our staff as an associate and immediately got our attention when he marched all across the sanctuary platform announcing that the most important thing about buying a house was location, location, location!
In 1997, the new contemporary worship service, CrossRoads, was introduced at the 11:00 hour. Initially it was held in this sanctuary, but for more intimacy moved to Hale Chapel (our previous sanctuary). That space quickly filled up and had to move back into this sanctuary.
In 1998, Rev. Ronni Sue Verboom joined us as our first female pastor, and our hearts became joined as she closed our Worship in the Woods service with a loving prayer mentioning the gentle breeze rustling through the trees and the beautiful sounds of the song ‘When Johnny Comes Marching Home’ just sung by Bill & Bobby Hill.
In 1999, the spirited Rev. Doyle Blanton sang his way into our hearts. In 2002, the beautiful stained glass window in the front of the sanctuary was given as a memorial.
The Rev. David Seyller joined us as Senior Pastor in 2002 and will continue to lead us as we seek our vision for the future.
In December of 2002, the entire debt of this church building was paid off, and a mortgage burning ceremony was held on March 1st of 2003.
We are indebted to those who started our church 170 years ago and to those who brought us to our present location.
There is an assortment of memorabilia displayed in the balcony area plus a continually running slide show of old pictures. There are many handouts that you may take. Please check our web site which has much information and pictures on our history.
Thank you, and may God bless the First United Methodist Church of Crystal Lake.
(Remarks read by Don Rosborough for the 50th Anniversary)