Plainfield United Methodist Church – Timeline

PUMC timeline

1823: Methodist circuit rider, Jesse Walker, spread Christianity to the Pottawatomie Indians near the DuPage River. Circuit Riders traveled on horseback sharing the gospel.

1829: Jesse Walker, James Walker and 10 settlers formed the first Methodist class in Walker’s Grove, now Plainfield. Reverend Jesse Walker was the first pastor of this Methodist class which was located within the bounds of the Rock River Conference.

1830: The first Methodist preaching place was a long cabin schoolhouse. The log cabin was located at Route 30 and Commercial St.

1836: Construction began for the first Methodist church on Division St. and the west corner of Ottawa St. The log cabin was no longer large enough to accommodate the growing membership.

1848: After continued growth and settlement the need for a new structure arose. Plainfield Methodist Episcopal Church, located on the north side of Lockport St., became a station. Rev. Stoughton became the first full-time pastor. PMEC had a small appealing altar with a new organ. This church was completed in 1850 and was used for worship and Sabbath School.

1850: Rock River Conference held the 11th Session at the new Methodist church on Lockport St. Reverend Jesse Walker and his wife, Susannah, were reburied in Plainfield Cemetery.

1866: The first rendition of our current building was constructed for $20,000. Stone came from the local quarry. The church measured 52 by 70 feet with a 125 foot spire. A tower and elegant spire featured a glorious cross at its peak. The cross could be seen from all directions. An outstanding alcove of beauty enhanced the choir loft. The church did not have electricity, a furnace or plumbing. The church was completed in 1867.

1899: The 70th Anniversary was celebrated with five days of jubilee, May 21 thru May 25. The festivities included worship, fellowship and friends. Each evening pastors from years past preached to those in attendance.

1907: The Chime of Ten Bells” were a unique gift made possible by James W. Beggs and John D. Shreffler.  The bells were purchased thru the Meneely Company.

1913: The lot next to the church was gifted to the church. After clearing the horse stables, a parsonage was built.

1920’s: Baptisms were performed at the waters of the DuPage River in Electric Park.

1921: A Social Center was constructed to serve the church and surrounding community. The center allowed for Sunday School, banquets, plays, fairs, and sporting events. There was even a bowling alley in the basement.

1923: An enormous and gorgeous Kilren Pipe Organ was placed in the chancel of our church. This organ replaced the old hand pump organ and closed off the alcove on the altar.

1929: “Centennial Celebration – Plainfield Methodist Episcopal Church was referred to as the “”Mother of Methodism in Illinois”” since few religious institutions in the state had attained the dignity of a centennial celebration.”

1930’s: Sabbath School was held on Sunday afternoons. New classes were constantly being created to meet the increasing needs of the enlarging Sunday School classes. Daily Vacation Bible school was held for two weeks in the summer. Bible Sunday Celebrations also began in the 1930’s. Each time a bible is received, it is a special time, with special meaning. On Bible Sunday, Third Grade Students receive a bible donated by our United Methodist Women.

1938: On July 28, lightning struck the steeple. Despite the steeple height of 125 feet, the quick efforts of the Plainfield Fire Department minimized the amount of damage.

1939: The Social Center was closed, due to financial hardships.

1941: Esquire Theater opened. Anderson Theater Corporation rented the Social Center from the church.

1944: In preparation of the 115th Year Anniversary, several improvements were made to the chancel and church. An impressive wood chancel was designed to give central attention to the additional cross. A kneeling rail and inspiring baptismal font were also added. The choir of 24 made its initial appearance in new wine colored robes while providing special jubilee music for the celebration.

1947: The giant oak tree, planted in 1866, was deemed dangerous to the church and the people around it. So the tree was removed.

1950: Plainfield Savings and Loan occupied the Social Center after the theater closed.

1952: There were not enough classrooms for all of the Sunday School classes, prompting a need for an education wing. This new two-story addition, containing classrooms and a kitchen, was added to the southwest side of our church building. The large organ was replaced. The steeple was restored to its original lines and crowned with a stainless steel cross that could be seen from miles away.

1954: James Parker, a Naperville Seminary student became our first youth director.

1966: Again, more room is needed for education, offices and an elevator. The Savings and Loan moved out of the Social Center. The building was destroyed. Beautiful memorial windows were added.

1967: An impressive Cornerstone Ceremony was held. The Cornerstone and copper box (time capsule) were placed on the northeast corner of the tower. The cornerstone and copper box were moved in 2005 to the stairway.

1967: The Heritage Room became a showcase for our historical highlights. In 2005, the memorabilia was moved to The Parks Friendship Hall.

1969: The remodeling and addition were complete. The new tower entrance was inscribed with “Our Hope for Years To Come.”

1977: The Rainbow Room became a room to be used strictly for youth activities and fellowship.

1977: 148th Anniversary Celebration catered by Rock’s Deli was served in Fellowship Hall.

1979: 150th Anniversary of Plainfield United Methodist Church

1982: An Allen 705 Organ was purchased and installed. It was a vast improvement to have a digital computer system. The bell tower was also refurbished.

1984: Plainfield United Methodist Church celebrated Methodism’s 200th Anniversary by adding three stained glass windows in the bell tower representing past history.

1985: An amazing Baldwin Grand Piano was purchased for the sanctuary.

1986: The second parsonage was build on Indian Boundary Road.

1989: 160th Anniversary Celebration – Celebrate and Witness. The morning worship was followed by dinner. The church was unable to accommodate the large crowd so the dinner was held at the American Legion Hall.

1990: The Plainfield Tornado. Our church took leadership to aid and help victims of the devastating tornado. Aid was given to those affected thru Methodist Care Groups.

1996: The General Conference of the United Methodist Church adopted a Safe Sanctuary Policy to reduce the risk of child sexual abuse in the church.

1997: Director of Christian Education, Mary Snydersmith, was hired. Two special youth groups were formed: Growing United Methodists (GUM) and Love’s Adventure in Fun and Faith (LAFF).

2002: The Courage at the Crossroads campaign began. Plainfield was growing by record numbers as was our church family especially in Christian education attendance.

2003: The Small Group Ministries were created to meet the diverse needs and interests of the congregation and community.

2004: Ground Breaking for the new building and Parks Ministry Center. Worship services were held at nearby Lincoln Elementary School during construction.

2005: Worship services returned to the newly remodeled church with the new spacious addition. The 175th Anniversary celebration was combined with the dedication. We celebrated in the new Janet Brown Fellowship Hall.