For 175 years, there has been a Methodist Church at the corner of Fourth Street and Dixie Highway in Momence.
To celebrate the anniversary, a special service will take place at 8:45 a.m. Sunday at First United Methodist Church, what it has been known for more than 50 years, with guest speaker Illinois Great Rivers Conference Residing Bishop Dr. Frank Beard.
“Our members are committed to the mission of the church and are disciples of Jesus Christ,” said the Rev. Alberto Ramirez, who is presently serving as the minister.
Momence was established in 1834 and by 1840 circuit rider the Rev. S. P. Burr began holding church services in a schoolhouse every two to four weeks. In 1844, Momence became an appointment on the Beebe Grove Circuit on the Joliet District of the Rock River Conference. The Rev. J. Leckenby was the first minister assigned to this charge.
In 1849, a parsonage was built on the corner of Second and Locust streets. In 1863, the first Momence Methodist Church, the “Stone Church,” was built on the corner of Fourth and Dixie. Nearly three decades later the brick church was built in the same location.
During the 1950s, a fund was started for a new building.
In 1962, a new brick parsonage was built on the corner of Fourth and Pine. Ground was broken for the present church building on March 31, 1963, and the first worship service was held in January the following year.
Unique features of the church include the main entrance with imposing bell tower which was the old church’s bell at its base. Inside, the building seats 400 beneath the impressive wood-lined ceiling, holding two rows of ornate lights. Today, the church is handicap accessible.
In past years, the church was named Grace Methodist and later, First Methodist. It has been First United Methodist Church since 1968. To date, 58 ministers have been appointed to the Momence Church.
“I want to be present in the community to share God’s grace and love. God’s grace is for everyone. Everyone is welcome here,” said Ramirez, who is also the pastor at First United Methodist Church in Grant Park and Nueva Jerusalem in Kankakee. “I want to be a pastor who preaches the word of God and lives what he preaches. God’s love is for everybody.”
The youth group for sixth- through 12th-graders, sponsored by the First United Methodist Churches of Momence and Grant Park and the Nueva Jerusalem, meets at 6 p.m. Mondays. Sunday School and musical programs are offered for children.
“We believe we need to reach out to younger generations. I am very committed to working with youth,” said Ramirez, who has been the minister at First United Methodist for three years.
In addition, the church hosts two rummage sales each year and supports the local food pantry, the Memorial Fund for Scholarships, the Good Samaritans Fund for those in the Momence School District who need assistance and local and global missions.
Ramirez is originally from northern Mexico, where he graduated from seminary school. He moved to the U.S. in 2008, and he and his wife of 28 years, Juanita, became citizens just last year. He is currently working toward a master’s degree in pastoral care and counseling and is president of the Momence Ministerial Association.
“I want to keep the congregation as a friendly and welcoming congregation,” he said.
Worship services are held at 8:45 a.m. every Sunday in the church at 111 W. Fourth St. in Momence.