Methodist Episcopal Church
The Fourth Street Methodist Episcopal Church was organized in October, 1867, with the following members; John Barnes, Betsey N. Barnes, M.C. Bowers, Elizabeth Bowers, J.R. Bell, Salome Belle, M.S. Bowman, Amelia Bowman, Elizabeth Brewer, Della Benner, Edwin S. Clow, Margaret Clow, Hannah E. Cubit, Henry Farwell, Nancy Farwell, Rachel Harvey, Rachel S. Hyde, Robert H. Jenkins, Betsey Jenkins, Mary Lukens, John B Myers, Lydia Myers, J.T. McKibbon, Miranda McKibbon, Mary A. Payson, James G. Search, Mary Search, Patience Shepherd, and Jane Smith.
The Congregation first worshipped in Union Hall, but afterwards rented Wallace Hall which they occupied until January, 1869, when the basement of the present church edifice was dedicated, and afterwards used until January 8, 1871, when the building was fully completed, and formally opened and dedicated. The cost of the edifice was twelve thousand dollars. Before the formal organization of the Society by a pastor sent from the Annual Conference, the Rev. Mr. Best, from Freeport, preached and ministered to them for several months.
The pastors have been as follows: Rev. J.H. Alling, William H. Smith, the army chaplain of the 75th Illinois Volunteers, and to whom the Society is greatly indebted for the completion of their church building, J.H. More, and Lewis Meredith. The latter is the present pastor, and has been the incumbent since October, 1875. The present trustees are: J.B. Myers, M.C. Bowers, Jacob Zollinger, J.C. Oliver, James A. DeGroff, E.W. Edson, J .H. Woodburn, M.S. Bowman, and L.A. Sanford.
The present membership of the church is one hundred and eighty-three; probationers, nine. The Sunday School numbers over one hundred scholars, with M.S. Bowman, Superintendent, assisted by ten teachers. The church edifice is located on the southwest corner of Fourth and A Street. [Source: Bent-Wilson History Pg 437]
Some earlier attempts had been made by members of the Broadway church living in the Western part of Sterling to have a church down town, but without success. In 1867, upon request, the Rock River Conference appointed J.H. Alling Pastor, and the Fourth Street M.E. church was formally organized, with 29 members. Services were held in Wallace hall, until January 10, 1869 when the basement of the present church was dedicated. A series of meetings held after the dedication resulted in many conversions and additions to the church, and another series held by the pastor in a hall in Rock Falls resulted in a still larger number of conversions and the erection of a church. The superstructure of Fourth Street church was completed in 1870 and the church was dedicated January 8, 1871, the membership a little over a hundred. The church has been served by J.H. Alling, Wm. H. Smith, J.H. More, L. Meredith, W.D. Atchinson, James Baume, R.S. Cantine, T.B. Hilton, W.B. Norton, F.H. Sheets, J.B. Robinson, G.C. Clark, G.K. Flack, and J.A. Matlack. The church now has 268 full members and 28 probationers. [Source: The Sterling Standard Dec. 11, 1896]
The Fourth Street Methodist Church was organized in 1867 when about 40 members of the First Methodist Church withdrew to organize a new society. The separatists were residents of the west part of Sterling and desired to build a church nearer their homes. The Rock River Conference appointed the Rev. J.H. Alling pastor. Services were held in Union Hall and Wallace Halluntil a church was completed.
Lots were purchased at Avenue A and West Fourth Street. A building was completed on them in 1871. In 1907, a new edifice was started after the original church and parsonage were razed. It was dedicated on April 5, 1908. The Rev. W.W. Diehl designed the structure which was described as being Renaissance in style. The outside building material was shaped concrete-blocks. The auditorium had seating room for 1,000 persons and there were a banquet room, class-room and reception rooms.
On October 8, 1967, the Fourth Street Methodist Church celebrated its centenary. The speaker at the morning services was the Rev. Martin J. Overholzer of Schenectady, New York. Mr. Overholzer was the only member of the Sterling church to enter the Methodist ministry. Included in the extended period of rejoicing was a banquet at the Emerald Hill Country Club and an old-fashioned hymn-sing to mark the arrival of new Methodist hymnals. At the time of the celebration, it was recalled that the original church basement was dedicated for use on January 8, 1869. A thatched roof furnished shelter from the elements. [Source: Wayne Bastian, Whiteside County History 1968 Pg 420]
[Unfortunately this beautiful old church no longer exists, torn down and its interior fixtures sold at auction.]
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