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.
First Baptist Church • Est. 1839
212 S. Main St., Delavan, Wis., (630) 388-8000, firstbaptistdelavan.com
Predating Wisconsin’s statehood, this church was formed in September 1839 when worshippers gathered in the home of prominent Delavan resident William Bartlett. Two years later, they established Wisconsin’s first Baptist church.
They worshipped there until August 1855, when members dedicated a new brick building. This structure still stands, and it’s currently used as a fellowship hall. The cornerstone was laid on First Baptist’s current sanctuary in July 1880, about 20 years before the arrival of an Illinois-built pipe organ. Restored by the congregation in 2017, it’s estimated to be one of the oldest operating organs in the Midwest.
First Baptist is one of many Walworth County churches supporting the Spirit of Hope Homeless Shelter for men. Each winter, First Baptist opens its doors and offers a bed and shelter for those in need.
This is also one of six local congregations tied to the Food in a Backpack program, which provides food over the weekend for children who are at risk for hunger.
During the summer, church members provide volunteers for Andy’s Breakfast, which serves a pre-packaged breakfast to children in need.
The Rev. Betsy Perkins leads Sunday worship in-person and online at 10 a.m.
Hope Church • Est. 1979
451 Ackman Road, Crystal Lake, (815) 455-6340, hopechurchcares.com
This congregation in the Evangelical Covenant Church traces its roots to nearly 40 years ago, with a group of like-minded families. They came together to form a church that shared their ideals of worship and servanthood. The group began meeting twice a month, and more than a year later, in the fall of 1979, they held their first official service at Crystal Lake’s Canterbury School.
For the next five years, the congregation grew until its leaders decided it was time to establish a permanent home. The search went on for two years, until the congregation purchased a 5.5-acre lot at Ackman and Randall Roads. After they broke ground in November 1991, members helped with painting, carpentry, landscaping, and installation of floors and heating systems. On Nov. 15, 1992, they worshipped inside for the first time.
Hope Church serves the surrounding community through Hope’s Closet, a clothes pantry operated by the congregation. Hope’s Closet accepts donations and is open by appointment Tuesday to Friday from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Adjacent to the building is Herb’s Garden, a vegetable garden dedicated to the memory of a former church member. Food grown in Herb’s Garden is donated to Crystal Lake Food Pantry, where volunteers serve monthly.
Services are led by interim lead pastor Greg Johnson each Sunday at 11 a.m.