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.

Wonder Lake Bible Church

Wonder Lake Bible Church • Est. 1945

7511 Howe Road, Wonder Lake, (815) 728-0422,

Morris Ness and his wife gathered six children in their living room for Sunday School in April 1945 and taught them the word of God. With the support of fellow Christians, the Nesses aimed to establish a non-sectarian, non-denominational church home for the Wonder Lake community.

In those early years, they operated without financial assistance, relying on the voluntary giving of members. The congregation grew and continued meeting in the Ness family’s home, even after they moved out. The front of the house became a church while the back became a parsonage. The basement became several Sunday School rooms.

The congregation in 1971 moved to its current location on Howe Road. The original building now houses Justen’s Wonder Lake Funeral Home.

Today, this active congregation serves through ministries and outreach programs such as Awana, an international initiative designed to teach children and their families about the Bible. Additionally, the church supports missionaries around the world through financial aid and prayerful support. The wisdom and teachings of church leaders and guest speakers are available to all through a podcast online.

Pastor Dan Cox leads in-person worship Sundays at 10:15 a.m. Services are also livestreamed on the church’s website.

St. Matthew Lutheran Church, Barrington

St. Matthew Lutheran Church • Est. 1930

Dundee Ave., Barrington, (847) 382-7002,

The Rev. Paul Gerth came from St. Matthew Lutheran Church in Hawthorn Woods to lead worship for Barrington Lutherans at the Catlow Theater in 1930. Two years later, a group of 35 people founded St. Matthew Lutheran Church of Barrington.

In 1933, the congregation acquired the old Free Methodist church in Algonquin for $150, and then transported the building to Barrington upon a truck. The dedication services in 1934 drew more than 800 people.

During World War II, the church played a significant role in founding a daughter congregation, Saint John Lutheran Church in Island Lake. The two churches operated as a dual parish from 1942 to 1953.

By that point, the still-growing St. Matthew needed more space, so members purchased 10 acres south of Barrington’s Evergreen Cemetery in 1954 and began constructing a new church and parsonage. Groundbreaking occurred in 1957.

The building grew in 1971 with office space, Sunday School rooms, a youth room, classrooms and a gymnasium. The church started mission trips to Mexico in 1995 and continued the tradition for over a decade.

Today, this Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod congregation partners with local nonprofits like The Community Meal, which offers several monthly free meals to the hungry, and Feed My Starving Children, where volunteers pack meals for the malnourished in 70 countries.

The Rev. Michael Brown leads in-person worship Sundays at 10 a.m. Services are additionally livestreamed on the church’s YouTube page.