History of Our Congregation

145 Years of Faithfulness!

Our congregation today is the recipient of a long legacy of Presbyterians in Hoopeston who have been faithful custodians of the church during the years it was entrusted to their care. As so many members before us have done, we continue to be a faithful witness to the Good News of Jesus Christ in our time and in our town.

1871-1877: Hoopeston, from Town to City

In 1871, during the Civil War reconstruction period, the town of Hoopeston, Illinois, was founded at the crossing of the newly completed Chicago & Eastern Illinois and Lake Erie & Western railroads, on land owned by Thomas Hoopes and Joseph M. Satterthwait. In 1874, the Village of Hoopeston was organized. In 1877, the City of Hoopeston was incorporated.

1872-1880: A Homeless Beginning

In 1872, six families who had located here for business purposes and who were of the Presbyterian faith, after consulting together, decided to petition the Presbytery for a church organization in Hoopeston. First Presbyterian Church was organized on May 3, 1872, with eighteen members. Initially the congregation met in rented halls, first in the Hibbard House, a public tavern or hotel, on the corner of Second Avenue and West Penn Street. In 1873, the congregation met at Snell & Taylor’s Hall, on the corner opposite the Hibbard House. Later the congregation worshipped at the Gid Davis Carpenter Shop, south of the tracks on the east side of Market Street, Knox and Given’s Hall, and in 1877, at Clark’s hall when W.R. Clark fixed up the upper part of his hardware store as a hall (corner of Main and Market Streets). The congregation was essentially homeless for its first eight years. The eighteen charter members were: Charles R. Strauss, Effa Strauss, Charles E. Strauss, Anna M. Strauss, Alvira E. Strauss, Mary J. Strauss, Louis M. Strauss (the first seven came from letter of transfer from the Paxton church), William Maxwell, Mrs. Keziah Maxwell, Mary Maxwell, Dr. M. L. Anderson, Mrs. M.L. Anderson, John Palmer, Mrs. John Palmer, J.M. Miller, Mrs. Mary Miller, J.N. Danner, and Mrs. J.N. Danner.

1880-1900: A Wooden Church

wooden churchIn 1880, our congregation’s first church building was constructed, a wooden frame facility at the corner of Penn and Market Streets, at a cost of $2,600. The congregation worshipped there for twenty years. Outside, the church was simply a plain, wooden, box-like structure with a modest steeple. Some years later, after much effort, a bell was hung. Inside the church was a vestibule and one large room, heated by two immense soft coal stoves and lighted by kerosene lamps. The church roof persisted in leaking around the east chimney, about which, a 1912 church historian wrote: “Church roof repairs and repairs to the old parsonage were the bottomless wells into which all our spare earnings constantly disappeared.” By 1900, the congregation had outgrown the facility and plans were made to build a larger structure on the same site. The old church was sold to John Mann for $260 and was immediately torn down so the new church could be erected. At the request of the congregation, Mr. Mann carefully stored the eight beautiful stained glass windows. However, soon afterwards the building in which they were stored burned, and the windows were lost forever.

1900-1978: A Brick and Stone Church

stone churchThe new brick and stone church, one of the most beautiful in the city of Hoopeston, was erected at a cost of $21,000 and dedicated on December 9, 1900. By the dedication date, the 180 members had fully paid for the facility. Many of our current members have fond memories of the “old” building. In the mid 1970’s, a generous bequest from the estate of Maude Evans was received. At the same time, our congregations was facing the need for costly repairs of the building’s infrastructure, difficult upgrades to make it handicapped accessible, and a desire for air conditioning in a facility not built for it. So, looking forward, our congregation chose to invest a portion of the Evan’s bequest into the construction of a brand new facility located on five acres of land east of the hospital on Route 9.

Since 1978: A Modern Church

modern churchOur current church building was dedicated on December 17, 1978. The placard mounted at the entrance reads: “Dedicated to the Glory of God, in memory of Maude Evans whose generosity made construction of this building possible.” It cost approximately $600,000 to construct. The old brick and stone church was eventually torn down. Several items from the old church were saved and reside in our church today, including two stained glass windows (in office area), the font, pulpit, and communion table (in narthex), the church-tower bell (at our entranceway), and the cornerstone dated 1900 (below the bell). Our current facility is beautifully designed for a congregation our size. As a single-floor design with a paved parking lot, it is completely handicapped accessible. With a flexible seating design, the entire sanctuary can be rearranged for a new look at no cost. This will serve the needs of the future well as tastes change over time. With a state-of-the-art zoned heating and air conditioning system, we are a very “green” church.

Membership Records

We retain membership records of every member of our congregation since its beginning, including names, membership dates, baptism and confirmation dates, wedding dates, births, ordination dates, and dates of death. If you are interested in particular information, please inquire with the church office.

History of Pastors

K. Wade Meranda 2012 – present
Ann M. Schwartz & K. Wade Meranda 1999 – 2012
John (Jack) N. Porter 1991 – 1998
Jeffery R. Borgerson 1983 – 1989
Bernard W. Nord 1971 – 1981
Paul Bingham 1965 – 1969
Frederick W. Ingle 1959 – 1964
George K. Tjaden 1948 – 1952
E. L. Castrodale 1939 – 1948
S. Howard Smith 1919 – 1938
Loyal W. Madden 1911 – 1918
W. A. Bodell 1907 – 1910
David S. McCaslin 1902 – 1907
Edward J. Regennas 1892 – 1902
John B. Logan 1890 – 1892
George W. Baxter 1885 – 1889
Alexander L. Knox 1878 – 1884
Francis Lynn 1874 – 1876
William N. Steele 1872 – 1874