In the year 1835, when Andrew Jackson was in the White House, a group of Methodists began meeting together in this community. The first religious services conducted in Dundee began in class sessions in the small log cabins that dotted the area.
The first preachers that served the community came on horseback. These were young men, covering the circuits of many churches over the course of the year, braving the elements in their desire to serve the Lord. A favorite saying in those days was, “the weather was fit only for the crows and Methodist preachers.” Riding the circuit was the favorite idea of Bishop Francis Asbury of whom it was said that “The first two sounds to be heard along the frontier were the ring of the pioneer’s axe in the clearing and the “Hello” of Francis Asbury as he rode up to the cabin door in his successful attempt to carry Methodism out to the West.”
Following Asbury’s example, history records that circuit riders, William Royal and Samuel Pillsbury, riding into the country in 1830 astride their horses carried a Bible in one hand and a musket in the other. Arriving here they formed a “class” in Lake, later known as Dundee, which was one of the thirty-three preaching points, which they served. The circuit of those days was covered every four weeks.
“Starting from Milbrook, in the southern part of Kendall County, the preachers went to Mr. Wells’, south of Yorkville; to Daniel Pierce’s, now Oswego; to Joseph McCarty’s at Aurora; to David Grove, east of Elgin; to Charles Gary’s, three miles north of Warrenville; to Salt Creek; to Elk Grove; to Plumb Grove; Everett’s; Alexander’s, where there was a small church built in 1938; Wissencraft’s, on the Des Plaines; Libertyville; Brook’s; Ladd’s near State line; Marsh’s Grove, preaching at Brother Russell’s; Deer Grove; DUNDEE; Crystal Lake; Virginia Settlement, north of Woodstock; Pleasant Grove; Mason’s , two miles below Belvedere; Enoch’s, eight miles northeast of Rockford; Mouth of Kiswaukie; Lee’s Mill, near Sycamore; Walrod’s; Seeley’s, at Squaw Grove; and at Somanoc, preaching at Brother Hough’s. What a Circuit!”
From the class meetings in 1835 evolved the church group of 1853, which found its first home in the “Son’s of Temperance Hall” in East Dundee. In 1859 this group built a small frame church on Van Buren Street in East Dundee in the block where the Immanuel School stands today. This church was moved to the north side of Main Street and still is used as a business site in East Dundee.
Time marches on. Ministers came and went. Some stayed even less than a year as was the custom in those days. The Methodist congregation grew in numbers and dreamed dreams.
From the records of the Third Quarterly Conference, July 6, 1881, we read; “on motion it was resolved that the time has come to build a new church on the west side of the river. “And we hereby pledge ourselves to do all we can to further the enterprise. “ “Moved that Brothers Wanzer and Clifford and Bumstead be appointed a committee to circulate subscriptions for a new church edifice, and carried.”
From the minutes of the Fourth Quarterly Conference, October 1, 1881: “Pursuant to instructions from a former quarterly conference of the Dundee charge, the Trustees of Church property for said charge have sold to the German Lutheran Church of Dundee our Church edifice on the east side of the river for the sum of six hundred dollars…”
In 1882 a new church edifice was completed, standing on the south side of Main Street just west of the town hall.
During the years from 1872 to 1885, the Methodists of Dundee were greatly encouraged in their growth and development by Daniel M. Sinclair, the presiding elder of the Methodist Church in this area.
Fourth and Main Streets
On the corner of Fourth and Main Streets stood the Greek Revival style church, which the Baptists had built in 1865 and occupied since the close of the Civil War. Because of the declining membership its doors were closed in 1917, the church only being used for an occasional funeral of a former member. The remaining congregation was invited by the Methodists to worship with them. The Baptist folk accepted the invitation.
In 1922, because of the increase in Methodist membership, they voted
to purchase the larger Baptist building, and sold their structure to the American Legion.
After taking possession of their new church home, a great period of rejuvenation followed. The auditorium was redecorated and improved. Stained glass windows replaced simple clear glass windows. The hanging lights were installed which are in use today. These two items were gifts of several very devoted church members. The choir loft at the front, which was almost as high as the balcony, was lowered, replacing the old baptistery. The old Baptist kitchen to the east of the fireplace room was torn down and replaced by a combination gymnasium and religious education room. A kitchen was built in the basement and a dining room was located under the present gymnasium.
In 1954, the congregation voted to purchase the John E. Test residence at 310 W. Main Street for a parsonage. A large area of land adjacent to the church in addition to the home made this a desirable undertaking, providing for future building expansion in light of a growing membership. The transaction amounted to $28,500.
In 1955, the official board voted to extend the Church School unit of our building on the east side giving the church its present offices for the church secretary and pastor’s study.
In 1977, a gift was received from the estate of Mrs. Florabelle Andrews Pundt to be used for the building of a new youth room and the purchase of a new Allen organ for the sanctuary. The crawl space below the sanctuary was dug out, and a beautiful room created.
In the years following we continued to thrive as a congregation. From 2002 through 2004 we completely renovated the sanctuary, including new wiring and air conditioning. A new front door was topped with a Palladian window similar to the old Baptist doorway, which was fitted with art glass as a memorial to deceased member Robert Koath by his family and friends.
In 2005, because of the serious deterioration of the old Parsonage’s structure and foundation, the decision was made to purchase the residence next door on Fourth Street as a new Parsonage. Necessary handicapped accessibility improvements to the church were also made.
There have been times of growth and times of difficulties. The church in Dundee has stood for 180 years as a witness to God’s faithfulness and our commitment to bringing His Kingdom on Earth to all mankind.
We look back at the past and stand amazed at how far we have come. God calls us into the future, always looking for new ways to serve him. We walk into the future rejoicing in the challenge it brings to us.