Organized religion plays a major role in the settling of Illinois and continues to influence the culture of our region. We highlight two places of worship, one in the country and one in the city.
“Even the merest gesture is holy if it is filled with faith.”
Country Church: St. Mary of the Annunciation Roman Catholic Church, Est. 1864
22333 W. Erhart Road, Mundelein, (847) 223-0010, stmaryfc.org
In 1864, a frame church was built near where Fremont Center Road once met Highway 176, on land donated by John and Mary Meier. Most of the earliest parishioners were German.
When it was founded in 1864, this church had no resident priest. A bell was cast for the church in 1867. Early Catholic directories, dating around 1876 to 1889, list the church as St. James, but the name was officially changed to St. Mary by 1892. In 1888, the parish received its first resident priest.
This priest soon bought four acres of land from George Diebold and his wife, for $400. A new church building was constructed there in 1889, along Erhart and Route 60, about two miles from the original church. The older building was taken down and rebuilt near the new church, and was used as a school. The cemetery that had grown around the old church was relocated to the new property.
St. Peter Church in Volo was a mission of St. Mary from 1889 to 1904.
A brand-new church building was constructed recently on Fremont Center Road, within sight of the old wooden building. The newer church is a large, modern structure with a glass facade. A member of the Chicago Archdiocese, St. Mary Church celebrates its sesquicentennial in 2014.
Parishioners are led by The Fr. Rev. Ronald J. Lewinski. Sunday Mass is held at 7:30 a.m., 9:30 a.m. and 11:30 a.m. Daily Mass is held Monday through Friday at 8 a.m., with First Friday Masses held in the little church. A Saturday Vigil Mass is offered on Saturday at 5 p.m. Confessions are heard Saturday 4-4:30 p.m., and by appointment.
City Church: Second Baptist Church, Est. 1862
1280 Summit St., Elgin, (847) 695-7757, sbcelginil.org
In October 1862, Rev. Benjamin Thomas of the First Baptist Church brought to Elgin about 125 escaped slaves from plantations in Franklin County, Ala., mostly women and children. This group, joined later by husbands and fathers, established the black community in Elgin, and formed the nucleus of Second Baptist Church.
Worship first took the form of camp meetings at Colby’s Grove, east of Elgin Academy, and informal services of prayers and songs took place at a member’s home. Second Baptist Church was formally organized on Dec. 2, 1866; its first African-American minister was the Rev. Richard DeBaptiste of Chicago, born free in Ohio.
In the early days, even during the winter, baptisms were conducted in the Fox River, the newly baptized being completely immersed in the water, in accordance with church doctrine.
The first church was a frame structure, located on Center Street facing Barclay Park, that also served as a segregated “colored” school. Later, the church was moved to Dundee Avenue, and burned down in 1875. The 55 members held services in City Hall until a new brick structure was erected around 1876, on the northwest corner of Dundee Avenue and Kimball Street. For years, it served as a meeting place and social center for African-Americans.
In 1953, with a membership of 150, the church foundation was replaced, all windows repaired and tuck-pointed, and the building painted. By 1959, with membership growing and the physical building depreciating, it was decided to purchase the Church of the Nazarene at 280 Franklin Blvd. Members of the Second Baptist Church took possession of their new house of worship on May 1, 1961.
In 1984, church member Shirley A. Roberts became the first female minister in the church’s history, and the first black woman to be licensed and ordained in Elgin. Land was purchased for the church’s current location the same year. The new building was dedicated in 1990, just in time for the 125th anniversary in 1991.
Current church membership, led by The Rev. Dr. Nathaniel L. Edmond, continues to grow. Sunday worship is held at 8 a.m. and 10:30 a.m.