Brief History of First Church (A United Methodist Congregation)

The Crystal Lake Methodist Church (society) was founded in 1839 as a preaching station on the Crystal Lake Circuit of the Des Plains Conference. One year later, membership was 51.

The first building was constructed in 1858 at a cost of $1400 on Virginia Street across from what is now McCormick Park. The congregation purchased the old Congregational Church building in 1867, and in 1873 a new church building was built at the Southwest corner of Brink and Williams Streets. A three-story parsonage was built across the street in 1899. The downtown church was extensively remodeled in 1898 and again in 1920. 

During the pastorship of Gilbert Weisshaar (1944 - 1958), six acres of land was purchased at Crystal Lake and Dole Avenues, and in 1954 a new church was built consisting of a sanctuary, a fellowship hall, and a few classrooms on two levels. Earlier in 1954 the old parsonage was moved to 20 Paddock St.. In the 1960’s, growth of the congregation necessitated an addition that included 12 classrooms, office and storage space.

In 1959 a parsonage was built at 303 W. Crystal Lake Ave.  A second parsonage was purchased in 1969 at 28 Lincoln Pkwy. to house our new Associate Pastor - Rev. Hopkins. 

In 1975 our name changed to First United Methodist Church because of our merger with the Evangelical United Brethren Church. In 1979 we installed a new Casavent tracker pipe organ in the loft of the sanctuary. This organ was moved to our new sanctuary in 1994.

In 1992, construction began on a 28,000 square foot addition, doubling the size of the facility and included a 525-seat sanctuary, community room, choir room, new classroom space and extensive renovation of the original building. The congregation held worship for the first time in the new sanctuary on Mother’s Day weekend 1994. 

From 1989 - May 1995, membership increased 32% to more than 1300 people, worship attendance more than doubled to over 600 per weekend, and weekend educational classes more than tripled to an average of more than 300 per weekend. 

In 1997 a fourth Worship Service, called CrossRoads (contemporary) was added and in 2002 stained glass windows replaced the plain ones at the front of our new sanctuary. In 2006 a Columbarium was built and dedicated and in 2013 Steven Ministries began.

In 2014 we began to call ourselves First Church (A United Methodist Congregation), and our 94 year old boiler was replaced. 

Detailed History of First UMC

Photo Gallery on First UMC Website

Additional Historical Photos in Shutterfly 
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