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First Congregational Church Records (Sterling)


Scope and Contents

Administrative Information

Detailed Description

Administrative Records

Financial Records

Membership Records

Building Records

Sunday School Records

Church Organization Records

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First Congregational Church Records (Sterling), 1857-1982 | Northern Illinois University

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Collection Overview

Title: First Congregational Church Records (Sterling), 1857-1982

ID: RHC/RC/155

Extent: 6.0 Linear Feet

Date Acquired: 08/19/1982

Subjects: Congregationalists, First Congregational Church (Sterling, Ill.), Great Depression., Sterling (Ill.), World War I, World War II

Languages: English

Scope and Contents of the Materials

This collection documents the history of the First Congregational Church from its founding in 1857 through 1982.  The records are organized into six series covering different facets of church operation.  Series one, administrative records, comprises historical information, constitutions and by-laws, church record books containing meeting minutes (1857-1961), trustee meeting minutes (1949-1955), annual reports (1940-1981), resolutions and legal agreements, and correspondence (1949-1965).  These materials describe church actions taken on building development, recruitment of new pastors, membership problems, and the financial status of the society.  The second series contains financial records such as cash books, day books, and pledge books for the years 1888 to 1976.  Membership records comprise the third series.  Here researchers can find the names of all church members, dates of communions and baptisms, a register of marriages and deaths, and a listing of contributions.  In addition, there are letters of transfer and dismission (1883-1973).  These first three series represent the core records of the church.

The last three records series contain information on building development, the Sunday School, and various organizations within the church.  The fourth series documents the church's campaign for a new education building and modernization of older facilities.  Series five contains the minutes of the Board of Religious Education meetings from 1942 to 1971 describing curriculum changes over the twenty-four year period.  Also included are treasurer's books and attendance records.  The final series contains records of the Deacons (1945-1970), the Prudential Committee (1902-1977), the Men's Bible Class (1904-1909), the Mary and Martha Class (1927-1936), the Mayflower Circle (1948-1958), the Woman's Missionary Society (1914-1940), and the Woman's Guild (1895-1980).  Records of the Woman's Guild comprise the largest subseries describing their activities, membership, constitution, and financial situation.  Photographs and scrapbooks (1858-1959) complete the collection.

Researchers studying the responses of northern Illinois citizens to the Great Depression and World Wars I and II may want to consult these records around those various time periods.  For those studying religious history in this area, the Center holds other collections which may provide some pertinent information.  Please consult the Center's Regional Collection Guide or with a staff person for information on complimentary records collections.

Collection Historical Note

The first move toward the organization of a Congregational Society came in 1856 when several families from Indiana discovered the presence of a Congregational element in Sterling.  Throughout the 1856-1857 winter twelve men met to discuss and investigate the possibility of organizing.  On April 17, 1857, A. McMoore offered the following resolution at a meeting:  "Resolved that we organize ourselves into a Congregational Church."  The resolution unanimously passed.  Public organization took place on June 21, 1857 with 54 persons being recognized as members.  Rev. Parker served as the first pastor at a salary of $10.00 per sermon.  Rev. U.W. Small replaced Parker on August 8, 1859 receiving a salary of $800.00 per year.  A hall on the second floor of the Central Block served as the first place of worship.  In need of larger space, the church moved to Central Hall in 1860.  

On May 22, 1863, the church appointed a committee to decide on specifications and estimates for a Romanesque style of church.  After completion of the church until 1894 the society suffered financial difficulties and employed nine different pastors.  Nevertheless, by 1897 a cornerstone was laid for another new building and church membership reached nearly 500.  World Wars I and II also created problems for the congregation.  For example, the 1920 annual meeting listed total membership at 1094, but in January 1921 it was only 435.  Another drop occurred in 1923 until only 335 people belonged in December of that year.  From here on, however, the church grew and prospered.  

In 1957 members began a campaign to add new church school facilities.  The church approved the new facilities and Rev. C.F. McCall, superintendent of the Congregational and Christian Conference of Illinois, conducted the dedication services on June 12, 1960.  The Congregational Christian Churches and the Evangelical and Reformed Church merged in 1959 to form the United Church of Christ; this church became a member soon after the merger.  Over the years, the Congregational Church has served the community on an international level through missionary work, on a national level through charitable contributions, and locally as a source of strength and spirit for its members.

Subject/Index Terms

First Congregational Church (Sterling, Ill.)
Great Depression.
Sterling (Ill.)
World War I
World War II

Administrative Information

Repository: Northern Illinois University

Access Restrictions: There are no restrictions on access to the collection.

Use Restrictions: Property rights in the collection belong to the Regional History Center; literary rights are dedicated to the public.

Acquisition Source: Rev. M. Melvin Hough

Acquisition Method: Rev. M. Melvin Hough of Sterling, Illinois donated the records of the First Congregational Church to the Northern Illinois Regional History Center on August 19, 1982.

Related Materials: For those studying religious history in this area, the Center holds other collections which may provide some pertinent information.

Box and Folder Listing

Browse by Series:

[Series I.: Administrative Records],
[Series II.: Financial Records],
[Series III.: Membership Records],
[Series IV.: Building Records],
[Series V.: Sunday School Records],
[Series VI.: Church Organization Records],

Series I.: Administrative Records
Box 1
Folder 1: Church History
Folder 2: Centennial Celebration, 1957
Folder 3: Dedication Programs, 1956-1976
Folder 4: Constitution and By-Laws, 1955-1975
Folder 5-8: Church Record Books, 1857-1946
Folder 9-10: Trustee Meeting Minutes, 1949-1955
Folder 11-13: Annual Reports, 1940, 1949, 1952-1981
Folder 14: Resolutions and Legal Agreements, 1952, 1955
Folder 15: Correspondence, 1949-1965
Volume 1: Church Record Book (1 volume), 1947-1961
Series II.: Financial Records
Box 1
Folder 16: Treasurer's Reports, 1946-1961
Folder 17: Cash Book, 1896-1911
Folder 18: Day Book, 1938-1940
Box 2
Folder 1-5: Day Books, 1952-1958, 1963-1969
Folder 6-8: Pledge Books, 1888-1901, 1965-1968
Folder 9: Benevolence Fund Treasurer's Book, 1931-1976
Folder 10: Repair Fund Ledger, 1953-1954
Volume 2-3: Pledge Books (2 volumes), 1920-1930
Volume 4: Treasurer's Book (1 volume), 1914-1927
Series III.: Membership Records
Box 2
Folder 11-13: Church Registers, 1857-1922, 1936-1979
Folder 14: Membership Book, no date
Folder 15-17: Letters of Transfer and Dismission, 1883-1973
Folder 18: Newsletter, The Visitor, 1957-1982
Series IV.: Building Records
Box 2
Folder 18: Building Fund Campaign, 1958-1959
Folder 20-21: New Education Building, 1958-1960
Series V.: Sunday School Records
Box 3
Folder 1: Teacher's Meeting Minutes, 1947-1951
Folder 2-3: Board of Religious Education, Minutes, 1942-1943, 1954-1971
Folder 4-5: Treasurer's Books, 1906-1942
Folder 6: Attendance Records, 1939-1945
Series VI.: Church Organization Records
Box 3
Folder 7: Deacons, Minutes, 1945-1970
Folder 8-9: Prudential Committee, Minutes, 1902-1909, 1944-1977
Folder 10: Men's Bible Class, Minutes, 1904-1909
Folder 11: Mary and Martha Class Records, 1927-1936
Folder 12: Mayflower Circle, Minutes, 1948-1958
Folder 13: Woman's Auxiliary, Minutes, 1907-1916
Folder 14: Woman's Missionary Society: Constitution, no date
Folder 15-19: Woman's Missionary Society: Minutes, 1914-1918, 1921-1940
Folder 20-21: Woman's Missionary Society: Treasurer's Books, 1893-1933
Box 4
Folder 1: Women's Guild: Constitutions, no date
Folder 2: Women's Guild: Ladies Aid, Minutes, 1895-1906
Folder 3-10: Women's Guild: Minutes, 1916-1963
Box 5
Folder 1: Women's Guild: Executive Board Minutes, 1955-1962
Folder 2: Women's Guild: Correspondence and Miscellaneous Records, 1940-1961
Folder 3: Women's Guild: Treasurer's Books, 1916-1940
Folder 4: Women's Guild: Dues Record, 1926-1936
Folder 5-7: Women's Guild: Yearbooks (3), 1937, 1942, 1946-1976, 1977-1980
Folder 8: Photographs, partially identified (17), 1949-1960
Box 6
Volume  1-5: Scrapbooks (5 volumes), 1858-1959, no date

Browse by Series:

[Series I.: Administrative Records],
[Series II.: Financial Records],
[Series III.: Membership Records],
[Series IV.: Building Records],
[Series V.: Sunday School Records],
[Series VI.: Church Organization Records],

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