In 1835, in a one-room log cabin, located three miles west of Palatine, the Cady family was joined by a dozen or so neighbors to worship God in this pioneer community. Because the group qualified as a Methodist Class, they were soon eligible to receive the services of the Circuit Riders, a corps of dedicated Christians organized by the Northern Illinois Conference of the Methodist Church to bring the Word of God to the new settlers.
1848: A great revival brought 80 converts with 54 solid Class members. The Sunday school attracted 84 teachers and 276 scholars. With such success, the Class now qualified as a Charge to which resident ministers were assigned.
1858: Rev. Thomas Cochran guided the group in making building plans. On land donated by Joel Wood at Wood Street and Plum Grove Road, a white frame church was built and dedicated.
1891: Rev. William Smith, a retired army chaplain, began a 4-year term as pastor. He designed the red brick North Church that was dedicated in 1895 on the site of the original church.
1927: North Church remodeled, adding new pipe organ
1935: “Week of Jubilee” celebrated 100 years of Methodism in Palatine
1952: North Church is enlarged
1953: The first Director of Youth Activities was added. Continued growth resulted in adding a second worship service and two Sunday School services, even though First United Methodist Church rented classroom space in both the Wood Street and Oak Street schools.
1957: A centennial celebration was held. Construction of a new sanctuary on Plum Grove Road & Wilson Street began. The present Sanctuary was dedicated in 1958 and eleven years later, the parlor, church offices, library, and education wing were added.
1974: It was determined that the North Church was in need of repair or replacement. For two years, volunteers worked at restoring the building to useful condition as a fine arts center, which was used extensively for performances by various church groups.
1982: The 125 year history of FUMC was celebrated with a presentation of the original musical, “Winds of God,” which involved a cast of over 70 members.
1992: A renovation of the existing Sanctuary was completed. The organ was rebuilt and enlarged a year later and is dedicated in honor of Mercie Heise, who served as church organist for over 60 years.
2006: Construction begins July 5 on new administrative office space and the Wesley Center, a multipurpose facility to replace the North Church. The lobby is also greatly expanded, displaying stained glass windows from the North Church as a visual reminder of the many generations that came before.
2007: In the midst of construction and renovation, we celebrate our Sesquicentennial – 150 years in the community of Palatine. By the end of the year, renovation is complete.
Celebrating Our Rich History
The congregation of FUMC Palatine has deep roots in the community. The church opened its doors in 1857, just two years after the Village of Palatine was laid out by surveyor Joel Wood. We celebrated our 150th anniversary in 2007. The sesquicentennial year also marked the opening of the Wesley Center, a new multipurpose facility built to replace the Old North Church.
The year-long commemoration ended in November with the Great Reunion Weekend, three days of remembrance and celebration of the life of our church. The congregation came together to stage “A Church For The Ages,” a musical play tracing the lineage of the church from 1840 to the present day. Everything was done in-house, from scriptwriting to costuming to set construction. The church presented a wonderful show, a fitting tribute to the generations that have faithfully served so many people in the surrounding area.
The next night we held a dinner honoring the pastoral leadership, the men and women who have shepherded God’s flock in Palatine over the years. Ten former ministers were brought back to the place they once called home to reflect upon their time here. The weekend closed with the past, present and future coming together for a special worship service in the new Wesley Center. It was a great way to celebrate the church’s history while also marking the beginning of a new and exciting journey ahead.
The history of First United Methodist Church of Palatine, however, is much more than a history of buildings. It is the history of a congregation that has found ways to faithfully serve the wider community for more than one hundred and fifty years. In each succeeding generation, the people of FUMC have had the wisdom, foresight, and faith to be open to the new ways God is leading us.
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