Organized religion played a major role in the settling of Illinois and continues to impact our region in many ways. We enjoy highlighting places of worship and their work both at home and abroad.
A Cornerstone in the Community: St. Paul Lutheran Church • Est. 1857
85 S. Constitution Dr., Aurora, (630) 896-3250, stpaulaurora.org
A group of German immigrants founded this church in 1857 at the corner of Benton and Jackson streets, east of downtown Aurora. In 1865, St. Paul Lutheran School, which is also part of the Lutheran Church Missouri Synod, was started.
For more than a century the property served as a reliable home, but by the late 1980s, church leaders had begun discussing the creation of a new home. They hoped to continue current ministries, create a Lutheran Hispanic congregation and meet growing ministry needs on the city’s west side. Their vision came to fruition in November 1994 when St. Paul’s current sanctuary was dedicated on Aurora’s far west side.
In 2005, St. Paul Lutheran acquired Iglesia Lutherana San Pablo, a local Hispanic church, and this group moved into the Benton Street property. In April 2014, St. Paul launched its first Spanish-language service at the new campus.
In many ways, these sister congregations give back to their community. Together, their membrs support Hesed House in Aurora, a resource center that provides food, clothing and shelter to the homeless. Church members donate food and money, and they volunteer by preparing or purchasing food, among other things.
Church members help each other through the Everything in Common Exchange. Members and guests at the church and its Lutheran school can use the exchange to give items they no longer need to their fellow church members.
Pastor Danny Tutwiler leads a traditional worship service Saturday evenings at 5 p.m. and Sunday mornings at 8 a.m. and 9:30 a.m. Spanish-language services are held at 9:30 a.m. and 11:30 a.m. at Hope Evangelical Lutheran Church, 1575 Reckinger Road, Aurora.
Oldest Church in Lake Geneva: First Congregational United Church of Christ Lake Geneva • Est. 1839
715 Wisconsin St., Lake Geneva, Wis., (262) 248-3568, lakegenevachurchucc.org
In 1839, 13 of Lake Geneva’s early settlers laid the foundation of a strong and influential church in their nascent community, establishing the city’s first church congregation.
The first church building, made of oak framing at a cost of $250, was built in 1841.
As Lake Geneva prospered, membership swelled. Construction of a larger wooden church was completed in 1853, for $2,500. The original members were both Presbyterian and Congregational, but more incoming members were Congregational. In 1883, members voted to switch affiliation, and the church was renamed First Congregational Church.
The cornerstone for the current church was laid in 1897, and the building was dedicated in 1898, complete with a pipe organ and a Seth Thomas clock with chimes.
Stained glass windows were added over the years – many as memorials to the city’s pioneers.
The church also hosts the Lake Geneva Emergency Food Pantry, which is open each Monday, Wednesday and Friday to serve people in need and accept donations. Church and community members volunteer their time by helping the needy at this pantry. It’s open three days a week in coordination with the operating hours of other pantries in town, so the needy can get food more often.
Church members also support Side by Side Lake Geneva, which offers assistance to families in crisis. Not only does the church provide a place for them to meet, but members of the church donate their own time and money to support the organization.
The Rev. Kathy Rust, pastor, leads worship services every Sunday at 10 a.m., with nursery care if needed. The church has bell, children’s and adult choirs.