The history of the Methodist Episcopal church in Wilmette dates back 63 years. During the autumn of 1873 Methodists began to meet informally in Wilmette, and services were held in the school house at Central and Tenth streets. In May of 1874, the Methodist Episcopal church was officially organized, and 23 members were reported to the Rock River Annual Conference in 1875, with a church school membership of 103. The frame church building which Henry Dingee had erected at Lake and Wilmette avenues and which had formerly been occupied by the Union church was rented. Several years later this building was purchased from the owner.
Rebuild in 1908
The frame building was occupied until the year 1908. By this time the church membership had grown until the 200 mark had been reached, and there were nearly 250 members in the church school. It became necessary to build a larger and more adequate structure and the brick building was erected and served as the place of worship and instruction for this organization until the year 1929. During these years the membership grew to 800 and the church school to nearly 550. Many new organizations became a part of the church life, including the Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts, both of which received charters in 1923 [unclear] The church property was valued at $25,000 as compared with $5,000 in 1890.
Erect Gothic Structure
By the year 1927, the congregation and church school had outgrown the facilities of the brick structure. The community itself had grown and changed, and it was felt that a church building and its equipment should be as nearly as possible in keeping with the best standards of the community of which it is a part. Therefore plans for the present Gothic structure were formally adopted on May 2, 1927, when the Quarterly conference registered itself in favor of build. Dr. Horace G. Smith was pastor of the church at this time. The campaign culminated in March 1928, and the ground was broken for the educational unit on September 6 of that year. The cornerstone was laid November 11, 1928. On July 21, 1929, members and constituency thronged to the church to participate in the ceremony of entering the educational unit. The church services were then held in this structure and during the summer of 1929 the brick building and the two adjoining houses which the church had purchased several years previously wer wrecked. The cornerstone for the sanctuary was laid by Bishop Edwin Holt Hughes on Sunday October 5, 1929, and the dedicatory service was held June 1, 1930.
Long List of Pastors
The pastors who have served this church since its organization are as follows: S. G. Lathrop, Charles W. Thornton, J. P. Brushngham, J. B. Burlingame, J. H. Aline, R. W. Bland, John D. Leek, Edward Fawcett, B. F. Carris, H. G. Leonard, H. D. Atchison, E. B. Crawford, Samuel Earngev [unclear], E. C. Arnold, S. C. Bronson, William C. Cleworth, James O'May, Leon L. Hammitt, Thomas K. Gale, J. M. Schneider, J. L. Walker, J. J. Rapp, Gilbert Stansell, Horace G. Smith, OScar Thomas Olson, and the present minister, Amos Thornburg. The Wilmette Parish Methodist Episcopal church serves the communities of Wilmette, Kenilworth and Winnetka. It also has forty members living in Evanston and a number in Chicago. Eight hundred and ninety-nine members were reported to the Rock River conference in 1936. In addition to the membership there is a constituency in which approximately 200 families are represented. The property value of the church is now $450,000.
Lauded by Architects
In 1934 the Wilmette Parish Methodist Episcopal Church was voted by architects as the most perfect piece of Gothic architecture of all of the new churches. Many students and others have studied it as an example of an adequate church building. The fall after the building was completed, the Rock River Conference met here for its annual session. The music festival for church musicians, sponsored by Northwestern University, will meet here on July 26 of this year under the leadership of the Rev. Amos Thornburg, as it is felt that this church will meet all the demands required for their study and planning. The history of this church, which is the home of the resident bishop of the....[article ends abruptly]