“Religion is to do right. It is to love, it is to serve, it is to think, it is to be humble.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson
Organized religion played a major role in settling 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.
Ridgefield-Crystal Lake Presbyterian Church • Est. 1839 • 8505 Church St., Ridgefield (815) 459-1132, rclpc.org
Founded in 1834, unincorporated Ridgefield was first called the Virginia Settlement, because its first four families were pioneers from Virginia: Uriah Cattle, Christopher Walkup, William Hartman, and brothers Charles and John McClure.
The seven founders of this church met at Walkup’s home, beginning in 1839, with services led by a minister who came from Geneva, Wis. They called it the Presbyterian Church of Virginia.
The first church building, only 30 by 36 feet, was constructed in 1847; a brick schoolhouse was erected nearby. The first railroad came into McHenry County in 1851, and Hartman platted out Ridgefield in 1855. The congregation became Ridgefield Presbyterian Church.
In 1872, the membership decided to build a larger structure and a parsonage, both completed in 1874. The worship space was 36 by 56 feet, with two steeples, and its sanctuary is still in use today. Wind toppled the taller steeple twice, the second time in 1906, and it was never replaced.
In 1902, the pulpit was enlarged, a wooden sidewalk built and a beautiful stained-glass window installed. Around the same time, young members of the church’s social club raised funds to purchase the bell that still rings for worship services today.
During the suburban boom of the 1960s, the name was changed to Ridgefield-Crystal Lake Presbyterian Church (RCLPC), to reflect the town with the nearest post office, 3 miles southeast. In 1977, a fellowship hall was built; between 1990 and 2000, many other improvements were made.
As part of the national Covenant Network of Presbyterians, RCLPC is a broad-based, inclusive congregation, led by two pastors: The Rev. John Dillon and The Rev. Teri Peterson. Summer Sunday services are held at 9 and 10:30 a.m., and for fall, starting in October, at 8:30, 9:30 and 11 a.m. ❚
United Methodist Church of Antioch • Est. 1878 • 848 Main St., Antioch (847) 393-1259, umcantioch.org
The first white settlers here were the Gage brothers, who built a cabin in 1837. Hiram Buttrick’s sawmill, built in 1839, made the village a center of commerce and drew more settlers.
Many early residents were devout Protestants, and in 1843, they named the village Antioch, after a Biblical-era city located in present-day Turkey. During the Civil War, it was known for its abolitionist stand. In the late 1800s, it became a tourist spot for wealthy city dwellers.
The Methodist movement came to Antioch in the mid 1870s, with A.J. Bell, a lay evangelist from the Chicago District Missionary and Church Extension Society of the Methodist Episcopal Church. Bell helped to found several Methodist congregations. By 1879, the 40-plus members had organized a Methodist Episcopal congregation and built a church.
Moving into the 20th century, the growing membership demanded more space, and a larger church was dedicated on Nov. 24, 1901, with seating for 200, six classrooms, and a kitchen and fellowship hall in the basement. Its distinctive steeple is still visible on Main Street.
Donated at this time were two impressive stained-glass windows: Christ Knocking on the Door, from the Grand Army of the Republic, Union veterans of the Civil War; and Christ in Gethsemane, from the Epworth League.
That 1901 building is still in use as the sanctuary. In 1950, Wesley Hall was added, which includes a larger fellowship hall, kitchen and more classrooms, and in 1962, the Anderson Education Wing was added.
With an average worship attendance of 133, the congregation today is led by The Rev. Barbara L. Good. Sunday services are held in summer at 8 and 10 a.m., with no Sunday School; and starting on Sept. 11, at 8 and 10:30 a.m., with 9:15 a.m. Sunday School. ❚