HOOPESTON — First Church of God of Hoopeston will mark its Centennial Celebration at 3 p.m. Sunday with free food, beverages, plenty of games for children and adults and a lot of musical entertainment.
The church, located at 1010 E. Orange St. (Illinois Route 9), began its journey in 1913 as an old-fashioned tent meeting on the Charles Beaver farm in Wellington. As the congregation grew from little cottage prayer meetings, a more permanent meeting place was necessary to hold the growing congregation. The church rented a building on West Main to house its services. That building, which served the church from about 1914 to 1926, still stands, most recently known as Zarate’s Market.
Later in the early 1920s, the congregation’s expansion made it necessary to expand its facility even more. The church made the decision to buy land on West Penn Street between First and Second Avenue to construct a two-story building to house 175 people, a choir loft, four classrooms, a coal furnace/storage area and a washroom. The new church was dedicated in 1926.
Once again the congregation outgrew its building. Land was purchased in 1958 on the north side of East Orange Street to construct a new church. Plans were drawn up for the first phase of the one-story building, donations collected for building materials, and the erection of the new church began. On January 1968, according to history, “the congregation caravanned from the ‘little church on Penn Street’ to its present home.”
The first phase included the sanctuary, baptismal pool and choir loft, three classrooms, a small kitchenette, two restrooms and attic storage.
Phase II for the church began in 1979 after a generous bequest to the congregation. The addition, which included the pastor’s study, four new classrooms and the fellowship hall, was completed and dedicated in 1980.
An unusual event happened in October 2005 that surprised and elated members of the church. A quilt made by the ladies of First Church of God in 1938 with all members of the church inscribed on it, appeared on Ebay and sold for $200 to a Cissna Park couple. The quilt finally made its way home through the efforts of Doc and Pam Whiteman, and now resides on the wall in the church library, a piece of history from the “little church on Penn Street.”