WHO WE ARE/OUR HISTORY
Our church has been referred to at different times as: St John’s German Evangelical Church, Plum Grove Church, Highland Grove Church, Wycliffe Church, The Church at Wickleffe, St. John Evangelical Church, St John Evangelical Reform and currently St John United Church of Christ. It has always been a church, a place to worship the Lord.
1846 St. John Church is organized by German settlers, in an area previously settled by Englishmen, and occupied earlier by various Native American Indian tribes. The first services are held in the local schoolhouse and in private homes. The first parsonage is built on land donated by Johann D. Ottman, a half-mile west of the present church.
1850 January 22, the first Church Constitution is adopted. The church is officially named “United Evangelical Congregation at Wickleffe”, Cook County, Illinois. Wickleffe is the name of a Hotel located nearby. Mr. Morgan Johnson, donates 1 1/4 acres of land, on which to build a church, ½ mile to the east of the parsonage.
1854 The first church building is constructed near the parsonage on or near the Ottman site.
1854 or 1856 The Church is re-organized, and adopts the name, St. John Evangelical Church.
1863 The Church joins the Missouri Synod of the Northwest. It becomes a part of the Evangelical Denomination of the United States.
1860 circa A church schoolhouse is built near the parsonage, on the original “western” site.
1867 Additional land is acquired at the site of the present church.
1875 The old church is deemed too small, and a larger church is built on the new site, under the condition that the parsonage and schoolhouse remain in their location on the west site. The church cornerstone is dated and set June 5, 1875, on a stone foundation at what is now 1475 West Algonquin Road, Palatine, IL. Christian Brinchmannis the contractor. The new church cost $2,894, and the bell, $380. The church is dedicated the same year.
The new church is built just to the west of an old cemetery known by various names: “Highland Cemetery”, “Plum Grove Cemetery”, and “St. Johannes Highland Grove Cemetery at Wycliffe”. The oldest readable tombstone dates to 1863. It is believed that other markers date back to the 1850’s.
1882 On Sept. 19th, a fire destroys the parsonage–built two years prior–and the schoolhouse on the old site. This tragedy provides the incentive for all of the church buildings to be in one location. The parsonage and schoolhouse are rebuilt beside the 1875 church.
1885 In the early morning hours of August 21, lightning strikes the church steeple, starting a fire, destroying the church, cemetery records, and other documents.
1885 Sept. 14 A new cornerstone is set at the northeast corner of the new, rebuilt, church building. This replacement structure, identical to the destroyed church, is rebuilt by Christian Brinchmann and cost $2,700. The dedication ceremony is held on the 4th Sunday of Advent, Dec. 20th. A new church bell is recast by the Henry McShane Bell Foundry of Baltimore, MD, and is still in use today. A pipe organ, purchased for $875, is built in the loft (it is thought, by Emil Witzman).
1900 Sometime after the turn of the century, a bicycle is attached to the organ pump to replace the previous hand pump operation. An electric blower pump is added to the organ in 1934, when the church is wired for electricity.
1901 January 9 Daniel Bergman, Sr., is granted a property deed for the parcel of land that became Mount Hope Cemetery, located between the old cemetery and Roselle Rd.
1911 The Ladies Aid Society is organized. The first youth group, ”The Young People’s Society”, is organized in 1912, and both contribute considerably to a thorough renovation of the church in 1913.
1925 The rows of horse sheds to the west and south are removed in 1925 when automobiles become popular.
1925 September The 75th anniversary of the church Constitution is observed. A portable generator provides temporary lighting for the evening service commemorating the anniversary.
1928 English replaces the German language in the church services, and is used for the first time in the Confirmation classes and ceremonies.
1934 The Reformed and Evangelical denominations merge as “The Evangelical Church of America”. The Church officially changes its name to St. John Evangelical and Reformed Church in 1935.
1938 The church is wired for electricity, and new fixtures are installed. The original antique, candle chandeliers are remodeled for electricity.
1940 The Great Depression of 1929 causes many families to sell their property and move away, leaving only 13 families in the congregation.
1947 The schoolhouse, south of the church, is sold for $1,600, and is moved for use as a privately-owned Palatine residence. The proceeds pay for excavating and constructing the church basement. A central oil-burning furnace is installed, replacing the sanctuary’s pot-bellied stoves. Extensive interior remodeling is also done.
1948 The 100th Anniversary is observed, two years late, following the 1947 remodeling.
1954 or 1956 An addition is built onto the back (south) side of the church to provide office space, washrooms, a library, and a new kitchen. Plumbing is installed to provide piped water to the church from the parsonage well.
1957 The official name of the Church becomes St. John United Church of Christ, upon affiliation with this denomination.
1966 The congregation adopts the present constitution, which replicates the constitution of St John’s in Arlington Heights.
1967 More land is acquired adjoining the west and south borders.
1969 Mount Hope Cemetery, just east of the parsonage, becomes the legal property of St. John Congregation, deeded to the Church by Daniel H. Bergman and the John Wente estate. Three additional acres of land, adjoining the west side of the church property are purchased.
1975 June 15 The Church Sanctuary is re-dedicated, after receiving paint, sidelights, upholstered pews, and carpeting.
1975 September St. John Church hosts its First Annual Flea Market and Craft Fair.
1976 July 4 The Garden Chapel, (where the wooden cross stands today) in the SW corner of the property, is dedicated during a special service at the site. A Time Capsule is buried and dug up years later.
1986 The first Annual Spaghetti dinner is held in May.
1990 circa The Women’s Guild uses their funds for the purpose of a major kitchen remodeling.
1996 The church pipe organ, having been unusable for many years, is repaired and re-tuned in time for the 150th Anniversary, which the Church celebrates, Sept. 5th, as a “Pioneer Day”. The public is invited to share in the food and fun.
2008 Saturday Feb. 3rd The first, Annual Chili Dinner fund-raiser is held. The proceeds are applied to the Accessibility Fund. This lift project is completed and dedicated on Oct 9th, 2009.
2012 May 20th A “Pioneer Day” is held. Local organizations celebrate the church’s 1846 founding with us.
2013 July 06 The construction of a gazebo, near the SW corner of the church, is completed. It is dedicated on Sept. 01, and is used frequently for weddings and the church’s outdoor events.