Organized religion played a major role in the settling of Illinois and continues to influence the culture of our region. We highlight places of worship, one in the country and one in the city.
St. Mary Catholic Church • Est. 1873
10307 Dundee Road, Huntley, (847) 669-3137, stmaryhuntley.org
Huntley Grove had a small number of worshipping Catholics after it was founded in 1851. For two decades, this faithful group worshipped in neighboring towns, until they met in a local blacksmith shop to establish their own church.
In 1871, the 56 active families created a fundraising committee and began construction on land donated by town founder Thomas Huntley. This first building was located south of the town, along present-day Dean Street, next to the town cemetery.
In 1873, the Rev. Clement Duerr became the church’s first appointed pastor. A rectory was built next to the church a year later; a second one was built across the street in the 1910s. Both are still standing and used as private residences.
By the late 1920s, the parish had grown to 98 families. Construction for a new, larger church near Woodstock and Second streets began in 1930 and was completed the following year. The congregation eventually outgrew this building, too, and construction began for the third and latest church in 1999. Nearly 400 registered families celebrated its opening on Nov. 10, 2001. The building features 26 stained-glass windows and several artifacts from the original St. Mary church, including statues of St. Joseph and the Blessed Virgin Mary.
A Parish Ministry Center was built between 2011 and 2012 to expand the church’s services. The 33,000-square-foot adjoined building includes a parish hall, kitchen, youth ministry space, religious education classrooms, meeting rooms, a chapel, staff offices, bride’s room and storage space. It was dedicated by Bishop David J. Malloy on April 20, 2013. The entire facility now serves the 5,000 registered families of the St. Mary parish.
St. Mary is led by the Rev. Max Striedl, senior pastor. Mass is celebrated Monday through Saturday at 8 p.m., Tuesday through Thursday at noon, Saturday at 5 p.m. and Sunday at 7:30 a.m., 9 a.m., 10:30 a.m., noon and 5 p.m.
Epworth United Methodist Church • Est. 1894
37W040 Highland Ave., Elgin, (847) 931-5400, eumcelgin.org
In April 15, 1894, the first meeting for a new Methodist church was held in a storeroom on the corner of Raymond and Hastings streets in Elgin. Founding pastor the Rev. Charles A. Briggs led the start of Faith Mission, a mission church sponsored by the Grace Methodist Episcopal Church in Naperville.
A year later, 37 charter members renamed the church Epworth Methodist Episcopal Church, after Methodism founders John and Charles Wesley’s hometown of Epworth, Lincolnshire, England. The congregation continued to meet in the storeroom and had reached 55 members by the opening of its first church in 1896.
The Rev. F. A. Hardin officially dedicated the new building, located on St. Charles Street, in 1900. From 1901 to 1902, the lead pastor was the Rev. Morton Culver Hartzell – husband of Bertha Drew, a close friend of pianist Arthur Rubinstein.
Throughout much of the 20th century, the congregation grew, eventually calling for a larger building. Construction on the current 10-acre lot at Randall Road and Highland Avenue began in 1979. During the following two years of construction, the congregation met at the former Blue Moon Restaurant, on Larkin Avenue, for weekly services.
The Epworth community celebrated its centennial in 1994 and, shortly after, expanded the sanctuary to accommodate the growing 600-member congregation. Finished in 1998, the 16,000-square-foot addition includes worship space, eight classrooms and a gymnasium.
Under the guidance of the Rev. Deb Percell, lead pastor, the church holds traditional worship on Sundays at 9 a.m. Sunday school is held from 10:15 a.m. to 11:15 a.m. and Bible Study is offered at 6 a.m. on Mondays and Wednesdays.