Organized religion played a major role in the settling of Illinois and continues to influence the culture of our region. We highlight places of worship, one in the country and one in the city.
Clarno Zion United Methodist Church • Est. 1835
W5292 County Road P, Monroe, Wis. (608) 325-2503
White settlers first explored this lovely area of what is now Green County, Wis., in 1827. According to county history records, Andrew Clarno and a handful of other people, including his two sons, came from southern Illinois to settle it in 1832. After two of their cabins were burned to the ground during the Black Hawk War, several settlers fled.
The first marriage in Green County took place in the Clarno settlement in 1834, between Josiah Blackmore and Nancy Wallace. Five years later, the county’s first public school opened there.
The first religious services in the town of Clarno were held in 1835, at the house of Matthew Wells, conducted by the Rev. D. Harcourt, a Methodist preacher. County records state that his meetings were attended by “many people from clear across the timber.” A small band of worshippers, who wanted religious instruction for their children, erected a little church, 34-foot-by-38-foot in size, and 18 feet high. Three-fourths of an acre of land was given by S. Drake, with the condition it be used for church purposes.
Today, Clarno Zion United Methodist is an active country church that offers services on Sunday mornings at 9:30 a.m.; Sunday School takes place during the worship service. The congregation is led by The Rev. InWha Shon.
Emmanuel Lutheran Church • Est. 1882
920 Third Ave., Rockford, (815) 963-4815, emmanuellutheranrockford.org
Founded in July 1882, primarily by Swedish-Americans, Emmanuel was the second Lutheran church established in the Rockford area and the first to adopt English as its primary language.
In the early 1900s, a strong tradition of outreach was begun, with 20 percent of members’ donations going directly to missions and charity.
In 1923, the Emmanuel congregation constructed a building that seated 1,100 people and was known as “The Church Beautiful.” The floor plan is in the shape of a cross; a wooden rendition of Leonardo da Vinci’s “The Last Supper” rests on the altar, hand-carved by a German artist.
Several exquisite Tiffany stained glass windows adorn the sanctuary with scenes of faith, including the “River of Life” described in Revelation 22. Wooden buttresses hold up a canvas ceiling with hand-painted medallions and emblems. Rosettes over the front doors signify that the doors are open to all nations.
Today, Emmanuel is a progressive church that finds many ways to serve its urban Midtown neighborhood and the greater community.
Since 2013, it has been led by Pastor TroyAnn Poulopoulos. Traditional worship services are held Sundays at 8:30 a.m. with adult education at 9:30 a.m. Emerging worship is at 10:30 a.m., as is Sunday School. A “Breathe” meditation service is held at 5 p.m. on the second Saturday of each month, except in summer.