Houses of Worship: Living the Faith

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.

St. Barnabas Lutheran Church • Est. 1964

8901 S. Cary-Algonquin Road, Cary, (847) 639-3959,

It was around March 1962 when Pastor John McCarthy began researching nearby towns where he could help establish a permanent congregation in southeast McHenry County. At the time, he was leading worship services at Maplewood School, in Cary. In 1963, the group set up in a small white church downtown, and the following year they joined the Illinois Synod of the Lutheran Church in America. 

In 1965, the growing congregation purchased 5.9 acres in a rural plot just outside of town. The new building was dedicated in May 1968. The following decades brought continued growth, and in 1986 a new sanctuary was built on site. The church expanded again in 2000 when 100 seats were added to the sanctuary. 

St. Barnabas shares its space and financial resources with the Cary Grove Food Pantry and the St. Barnabas Christian Preschool. The church also hosts Boy Scout and Girl Scout troops as well as Alcoholics Anonymous. On a global scale, the ministry has supported many campaigns including World Hunger Appeal, Lutheran World Relief and the Malaria Campaign. 

In-person worship is temporarily suspended due to COVID-19, but Pastor Sarah Wilson leads virtual services at 8 a.m. on Sundays via the church’s Facebook page and YouTube channel.

Journey of Hope, a United Methodist Community• Est. 1894

37W040 Highland Ave., Elgin, (847) 931-5400,


On 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 Rev. Charles A. Briggs led the start of Faith Mission, a mission church sponsored by 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.

About a year ago, the Epworth congregation merged with Wesley United Methodist Church to form a new Methodist congregation.

In-person services are temporarily suspended due to COVID-19, with Pastor Jarrod Severing leading virtual services Sunday mornings at 9:15 a.m. on the church’s Facebook page,