St. Michael's United Church of Christ was originally chartered in 1869 by German speaking immigrants as German United Evangelical St. Michael’s Church. The church building was built in 1870 at a cost of $2,325. St. Michael’s was the fourth Christian church built in Turner Junction (now West Chicago). The first three have since been torn down and replaced, leaving St. Michael’s as the oldest church building in town and a designated historic site by the West Chicago Historical Society.
In 1890 a bell tower and steeple were added to the front of the church building. A bell, weighing 1,050 pounds, still invites everyone to worship today.The intricately carved free-standing pulpit and altar still in place today in the sanctuary were given to the church in 1906 by the Sunday school and Young People’s Society. A major remodeling to the church was completed in 1911. An addition was built onto the rear wall. The entire building, including the bell tower, was raised and a basement added. The existing arched stained glass windows and pews were installed.
The 1934 merger of the Evangelical and Reformed denominations resulted in the name of the congregation being changed to St. Michael’s Evangelical and Reformed Church. With the 1957 formation of the United Church of Christ denomination (bringing together the Evangelical and Reformed churches and the Congregational and Christian churches) came the name and denominational affiliation by which the church has been known ever since: St. Michael’s United Church of Christ.
Extensive renovations to the sanctuary were made in 1977. The elevator, which makes both floors of the church building accessible to all, was added in 1996. As part of the 140th anniversary in 2010, the church underwent renovations in both the sanctuary and the Ehredt-Albin Fellowship Hall in the lower level, with an accessible bathroom added in 2013. The Gene Birmingham Memorial Library is a recent addition in the Fellowship Hall and is one of the ways the congregation is remembering the legacy of Pastor Gene, who faithfully served as St. Michael's Pastor for 25 years from 1971 to 1996. Following his retirement, he was elected Pastor Emeritus, an honorary title which he held until his death into eternal life in October 2013.
In 1958, an education, mission, and outreach building was built to the south of the church. In 1979 this building was named the Rockwell Memorial Building in memory of Rev. Trent Rockwell, the congregation’s 18th pastor who served from 1953 to 1963. This building has been home to various groups and organizations over the years. At this time the building houses School District #33’s Project Hope Birth to Three Program, a community youth ministry – PeaceJam, the church office, pastor's study, Sunday School room/choir room, and nursery. The lower level is the location for the Community Clothing Closet which St. Michael's began in 2004. Gently used clothing and shoes, as well as books for children, youth, and adults are made available for free to the community on the second Saturday of each month. The kitchen in the lower level is used for Healthy West Chicago's Global Cooking Class for 3rd through 5th graders, offered in conjunction with the group Common Threads, and Healthy West Chicago’s adult cooking classes.
On April 27, 2008, the members of St. Michael's voted to become an Open and Affirming Congregation, welcoming people of all ages, races, abilities, gender identities, and sexual orientations. Now, after 150 years and in ministry with our 25th pastor, Rev. Sue Ebersold, we, the members and friends of St. Michael’s UCC, have remained rooted in the traditions of our predecessors, while maintaining an outlook of progressive thinking that keeps us searching for the most meaningful ways to offer an extravagant welcome and share the message of God’s radical and inclusive love for all the people.
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