Celebrating the Past - Shaping the Future
In 1828, many years before there was any thought of an East Peoria, the first sermon preached in Fondulac Township was by Samuel Brown, a Methodist minister. The place was a sawmill on Ten Mile Creek and in 1835 the Buckeye School was built in the same community and services were conducted there.
In 1860 a hardware store clerk gathered a few children and started a Sunday School in a log cabin in Cole Hollow. Rev. Henry Apple, A Methodist minister was appointed to serve this group in 1867 and soon thereafter, a church was constructed with Capt. A.S. Cole contributing the first $250.00 and hauling the lumber.
The name of our church has been changed many times. The names were Blue Town Sunday School, Hilton, Coleville, Fon Du Lac, Methodist Episcopal Church, Community Church, back to Methodist Episcopal Church, First Methodist Church and in 1968 to First United Methodist Church.
In 1890 the first trustees were named and in August 1890 a building committee was appointed to construct a church in East Peoria known as Methodist Episcopal Church. A low bid of $1,761.00 was accepted to construct said Church.
In 1890, the building burned and the structure that replaced it was remodeled and altered several times. The latest in 1922. (This building was located at 250 East Washington Street and was torn down in the fall of 1978 after serving another denomination.) It served us well through 1958 when we moved to our present location.
In November 1953, having outgrown this structure, the congregation started talking about the need for a new church. Therefore, definite plans were made for a new church in the form of a financial campaign and the securing of an architect. The site of 154 East Washington Street, the A.S. Cole Mansion, was secured for the church and the property was purchased. On March 10,1957, ground breaking ceremonies were held and the cornerstone was laid in September.
The new building was completed at a cost of $250,000.00 with 18 months of volunteer labor. It was consecrated October 5, 1958. In November 28, 1965 the building was dedicated debt free.
In 1967, the church took another step forward by completely air-conditioning the church and educational plant.
Hansel and Gretel Day care Center was started in 1976, offering a program for children 2-5 years of age with hours from 6:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. on Monday through Friday.
In February 1983, the East Peoria Pantry was started to serve the needy families. It is staffed by a committee of volunteers. In May 1991, the Administrative Council voted that a new addition was to be built and on July 21, 1996, the ground breaking was held. The new addition would provide a new entry, with an elevator and new restrooms to make the church accessible to everyone. The new addition was completed in May 1997, at a cost of $600,000.00
A number of ongoing outreach programs have been added over the years and are being actively carried out. Some of the programs are: Mission trips by the Youth and Adults to Red Bird Mission in Henderson, Kentucky. Puppets for Jesus Ministry involving youth and adults have been added, taking the message of Jesus to other churches and areas. A Bell Choir has been featured. Phillips Ministry, which consists of a group of caring members who minister and call on shut-ins who need help. The Church sponsors a Boy Scout program.
Rev. Kevin Little is the current Directing Pastor. He is aided in ministry by his Associate Pastor, Emily Little, as well as Visiting Pastor Randy Shepard.
Church service is held every Sunday morning at 9:00 a.m. This is a hybrid service combining traditional hymns played on piano and organ, with contemporary music from our band.
It has been a long journey from a saw mill on Ten Mile Creek to the present location of First United Methodist Church at 154 E Washington Street, East Peoria, Illinois. There has been a “Long line of splendor” of clergy and laity together who have led this congregation for the years in ministry. We are a Christ Centered people, empowered by the Holy Spirit to love and serve god in this Community through joyful worship, sharing and caring, discipleship, witnessing and fellowship.
Through the years, the church has occupied a prominent place at the heart of the community and has kept the community at heart. We trust that through our cooperative efforts the church shall continue to be a living witness to the power of God in this community.