STILLMAN VALLEY – It is now 25 years since the congregation of the Kishwaukee Community Church began worshipping in its current facility at 8195 Kishwaukee Road, Stillman Valley.
This new church building was dedicated on Oct. 27, 1996 and will hold a Celebration Sunday on Oct. 24 at 10 a.m. as we remember and give thanks to God for his many blessings.
As part of that celebration, we are inviting all past and present members and friends to join us in this time of celebration.
Few people realize that the Kishwaukee Community Church is the oldest church in the Kishwaukee area of Winnebago and Ogle counties.
Settlers began to arrive in this area, where the Kishwaukee River flows into the Rock, in the late 1830s. People from Lancashire, England and Oberlin, Ohio began to carve farms out of the then wilderness as well as battle outbreaks of scarlet fever, malaria, and extremes in weather.
These early settlers, perhaps because of the hardships of life during that time, began almost immediately to meet for worship in each other’s log homes. And by 1844 a small group of those same families organized as a congregation of the Wesleyan Methodist denomination, becoming one of seven churches of what was known as the Rock River Circuit. Those were the days of the Methodist ‘circuit riding pastor’ who would go from settlement to settlement on horseback to preach, baptize, marry and bury the faithful. Kishwaukee’s first pastor was the Reverend Jeptha Noe.
The congregation met in several different locations until 1868 when a wood frame church was built on Condon Road – at a time when there was both a school and post office at the cross roads of Condon and Stillman Valley Roads. At a cost of $2,000, including the $50 they paid for two acres of land, a church was built that lasted until fire destroyed it in 1929. Wisdom dictated replacing the old wooden structure with a new, modern brick one, completed in 1930.
At the same time, Kishwaukee changed its affiliation from Methodist to Presbyterian, largely because of the proximity to McCormick Theological Seminary. For almost twenty years student pastors would come by train to serve the church each Sunday.
By the late 1980s the church’s membership, standing now at almost four hundred, outgrew the Condon Road facility – due largely to a very active mid-week youth ministry – and the church needed additional space. Land was soon found at the intersection of Stillman Valley and Kishwaukee Roads and the current building constructed at a cost of almost one million dollars – a far cry from the $2,000 spent in 1868! Regardless of buildings, however, it has always been the people, a people seeking to faithfully follow their Christian faith, who made Kishwaukee the church it was and continues to be today.
Written by Trevor Smith with material previously written by Sara Werckle