IN THE SERVICE OF CHRIST FOR OVER 130 YEARS
In 1855, southern Will County in Illinois was part of the expanding western frontier of America. The new Illinois Central Railroad opened up a vast new area of virgin farm land that sold for $1.25 an acre. New villages sprang up along the railroad to serve the pioneer farmers. Among these villages was Peotone, and among the area pioneers was the John Meyer family, German immigrants.
As these pioneers were still settling down to their new life, an evangelical circuit rider by the name of H. Rotermund, was assigned to the so-called Cedar Lake Circuit. When he arrived in the area on horseback, he gathered a number of neighbors together, including John Meyer, and preached to them at the location known today as Raccoon Grove, between Peotone and Monee. John Meyer's heart was "deeply moved" and he became a "class leader". Out of these remote beginnings, the Peotone United Methodist Church traced its earliest history as Peotone's oldest congregation today.
Like any river that begins somewhere as a trickle, this church has grown in significance through tthe contribution of a number of tributaries. Specifically, the Peotone United Methodist Church is the direct descendent of four previous congregations in the area:
Zion Evangelical Church emerged from those efforts exercised by John Meyer. Under the pastorship of The Rev. L.A. Koeller, a church building was erected at the northeast corner of Wilson and Third Streets in Peotone. It was dedicated on July 4, 1868. The building served the congregation until 1923 when they merged with Salem Evangelical Church, after which it was dismantled.
Salem United Evangelical Church was the result of a national denominational split in the early 1890's. This congregation built their first structure on the northeast corner of North and West Streets in Peotone. Under the leadership of Pastor C. Roloff, the old building was removed to Corning Avenue, just west of the Illinois Central Railroad Crossing, and a new structure was built in 1899 on the North Street hall. The new building served the combined congregation after the merger with Zion Church, which was marked by a celebration, which extended from May 17 to May 31, 1923. The church was then known as First Evangelical Church. After a national merger of Evangelicals and United Brethren in 1946, the church was known as First EUB Church. The building served the congregation of a local merger with the Methodist Church until Janurary 6, 1974, when a final worship service was held prior to its sale to the Peotone Library District.
One West Peotone Methodist Church had its beginnings with a meeting of earnest Christian citizens in the Crawford School on February 11, 1869. The name Wesley Church was chosen. The Rev. Mr. Robert Wright served as minister to the congregation when they dedicated their new building on Peotone-Wilmington Road, a mile west of present Rts. 45-52, on September 3, 1871. The twenty-two charter memebers were present for the occasion presided over by the Rev. Dr. J. M. Reid, then editor of the Christian Advocate. The first wedding recorded was that of Robert Robbins and Cora French. The building survived until Palm Sunday, 1961, when a tornado severely damaged it. The congregation then moved to First Methodist Church in Peotone where they united a year later to form Community Methodist Church.
First Methodist Episcopal Church had its organization in 1858 under the leadership of John Hitchens, a local preacher. It consisted of ten members. Under the pastorate of the Rev. R. K. Bibbins, work on a church building began in 1867. In January 1868 the building was dedicated, the first church building in Peotone. Since that time, the corner of Main and West Streets has been a continuous church location. That building was torm down to make room for the present structure, dedicated on January 20, 1907, in the pastorate of the Rev. Albertus Perry. In 1962, what became known as Community Methodist Church, formed the first so-called "yoked parish" in the Rock River Conference with First EUB Church, under the leadership of the Rev. T. B. Rockwood. The churches merged into what became known as Peotone United Methodist Church on January 1, 1965. The former Methodist building became the focal point of a consolidated renovation and building program in 1972. The first service in the renovated sanctuary was on January 13, 1974. Northern Illiinois Conference Bishop Paul A. Washburn officiated at the consecration ceremonies on March 31, 1974 and District Superintendent James Paulson officiated at the rededication and note burning ceremonies of the expanded facilities on May 29, 1977.