Henry County, Illinois
Henry County Church History
Submitted by: Chris Walters
UNITARIAN CHURCH, Geneseo, Henry Co. IL
The first Unitarian Society of Geneseo was organized October 27, 1868. Later the name was changed to the First Unitarian Church of Geneseo, Illinois. To quote its aim: "In the love of truth we unite in the worship of God and the service of Man."
The beautiful church representing English Gothic architecture was built in 1871.
Rev. Milton J. Miller was called to the church for one year but remained in service for 22 years plus 29 more as Minister Emeritus, a pastorate of 51 years. A life-time devoted to the society and community was exhibited by Rev. and Mrs. Miller. Fifteen thousand dollars was left by both of them as endowment for the Unitarian Society. Mrs. Miller bequeathed a fund of $20,000 to provide help for working women.
The Joseph C. Hammond Library and the John Hammond Hospital are gifts from the individuals whose names they bear. The ideals of Unitarianism prompted these generous donations. The tradition of public spirit was also evidenced in the will of a founder's son, George B. Dedrick, the last president of the church's board, who left approximately $1,000,000 for the benefit of Geneseo.
As parishioners passed on and others moved away, the membership dwindled, making it imperative to close the church. In 1954 it was secured by the Episcopalians as their church home.
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