Zion Evangelical Lutheran Church, McHenry

Country Church/City Church

“It is in our lives and not our words that our religion must be read.”
–Thomas Jefferson

Organized religion played a major role in the settling of 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.

Country Evangelical Covenant Church, Campton Hills

Country Church: Country Evangelical Covenant Church • Est. 1894

43W510 McDonald Road, Campton Hills, (847) 464-5381, countrycov.org

Originally known as the Swedish Evangelical Mission Covenant of America, the Evangelical Covenant Church in the U.S. was formed by Swedish immigrants with roots in the Mission Covenant Church of Sweden.

The seeds for this little church were sown in 1885, when friends in the Chicken Grove area began to meet for spiritual fellowship. Services were held in the Gustav Lidberg home until 1890, when arrangements were made to meet in the Lily Lake Congregational Church because of growing attendance.

Finally, in 1894, several families expressed the need for a church of their own, and in August 1894, the church was officially established as the Svenska Missions Församling (Swedish Mission Congregation) in Lily Lake.

Construction of the frame church began in 1899, on an acre of land purchased for about $135. The wood cleared from the land was used for girders, and lumber was purchased in Elgin. Some stones were gathered from nearby fields, while others were hauled from the South Elgin quarry. It was a day’s trip with horses and wagon for each load of lumber and stone.

The finished church was dedicated on Feb. 4, 1900, and services in Swedish were held every Sunday afternoon, led by student pastors until 1911. For the next 10 years, the church had a permanent pastor, and then, until 1948, student pastors again. In 1939, services in Swedish were replaced with English, and the name translated into English.

Over the years, a basement and furnace were added; electricity came in 1937; a balcony for more seating capacity was built in 1941; an electric organ was bought in 1954.

Today, as part of the Evangelical Covenant Church, the congregation is led by Paul Couleur. Worship is held each Sunday at 10:30 a.m., with communion served on the first Sunday of each month. Christian Formation takes place each Sunday at 9:30 a.m.

Zion Evangelical Lutheran Church, McHenry

City Church: Zion Evangelical Lutheran Church • Est. 1876

4206 W. Elm St., McHenry, (815) 385-0859, zionmchenry.org

This church was formed in 1876 as the German Evangelical Lutheran Zion Congregation. First services were conducted in private homes, various other churches, and also in the City Hall, led by pastors from Crystal Lake. 

In 1891, the congregation built its own church at 3815 W. John St., with services conducted in German. In 1899, Zion began operating a Christian Day School in the church, which ran for about 10 years. In 1903, church members voted to join the Lutheran Missouri Synod. Starting in 1927, services were held in English.

In 1955, land was purchased on Elm Street for a larger building for a growing congregation. Construction began in 1957 and was completed in 1958. An addition was put on in 1971, the same year that Zion women became voting church members. Another addition was completed in 1990. Zion’s preschool and kindergarten, begun in 1983, have grown to include 1st, 2nd and 3rd grades. 

Today, The Rev. George F. Borghardt III serves a confirmed membership of 392. Wednesday Evening Prayer is held at 7 p.m., and weekly worship services take place on Saturday at 7 p.m. & Sunday at 7:45 & 10:30 a.m., with Sunday School at 9 a.m.