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History Book Documents 175 Years of Methodism in Batavia

United Methodist Church of Batavia - Photo Credit: Craig Wassel

United Methodist Church of Batavia - Photo Credit: Craig Wassel

"The Past is Prologue: History of the United Methodist Church of Batavia, Illinois at its 175th Anniversary, 1836-2011" has been published. This book tells the story of Methodism in Batavia. The book, authored by Batavia United Methodist Church historian Scott A. McCullagh, covers seven eras in church history. It updates the history book authored by Lydia Jean Stafney in 1986 at the 150th anniversary of the church. Included are many additional historical and contemporary photographs, as well as new information uncovered during research for this project.

Methodist Bishop Hee-Soo Jung, Chicago Area Episcopal Office, wrote in the Foreword of "The Past is Prologue": “175 years ago Batavia was on the frontier. Settlers were forging a living out of the land while they created community with their neighbors. Faith in God played an important role in our early history as prayer and worship offered substance for the soul while facing the hardships of the frontier.”

The first 1836 Methodist classes were held in William Van Nortwick’s rented home. The book’s cover shows a picture of the Van Nortwick house. For the next sixteen years, with the help of circuit riders, initially from the Des Plaines District, classes were led by Mr. Van Nortwick in his original house, then in a mansion completed in 1847. In 1852, together with Reverend Elijah Gammon and others, the first church building was completed at the northeast corner of First and Washington (later Lincoln) Streets. Reverend Gammon was the first full-time pastor.

In 1888, due largely to the generosity of Reverend Gammon and Mr. D. C. Newton, the present building at 8 North Batavia Avenue (Route 31) was opened. Because of its unique architecture it was included on the National Register of Historic Places. By 1971, the McKee Street Methodist, the EUB Church of Batavia, and the First Methodist Church merged to become the United Methodist Church of Batavia. A large addition was completed in 1991, and in 2007, a multi-site outreach project was launched with the inception of Flowing Grace at Herget Middle School in Aurora. In November, 2010, Flowing Grace moved to its present location at Aurora Christian Schools on Sullivan Road.

Copies of "The Past is Prologue: History of the United Methodist Church of Batavia, Illinois at its 175th Anniversary, 1836-2011" are being distributed to members of the congregation. Additional copies may be purchased for $5.00 each by contacting the Batavia United Methodist Church office at (630) 879-7060.

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