SUGAR GROVE – The first church to be established in Sugar Grove is celebrating 125 years of worship this weekend.
The Rev. Vickie Hadaway, pastor of the church, said the Sugar Grove United Methodist Church was consecrated in 1888, a year after a member of the church sold property to church leaders for $1.
Citing a newspaper article published Sept. 17, 1888, Hadaway said a large crowd turned out for the dedication ceremony despite heavy rains.
Trains ran on a special schedule between Aurora and Sugar Grove to accommodate for the ceremony, and people traveled from as far as Aurora and Rochelle, she said.
During the dedication, the newspaper article quoted one person as saying, “Sugar Grove is to be congratulated over its first church building.”
“So this was the first church in the metropolis of Sugar Grove,” Hadaway said.
Before the Sugar Grove location opened, most people would worship with the Sugar Grove Blackberry Goodwill Church in the mid-1800s, Hadaway said.
A group of people within the church decided they wanted to worship closer to home, and a group of women started going door to door, collecting money to erect a building.
The original building still stands at 176 Main St., where worshippers still gather each Sunday.
It’s still the “downtown country church where everyone knows your name,” Hadaway said.
The church also owns 40 acres of property at 4S633 Harder Road, which was purchased in 2001.
Church members congregate there for outdoor services during the summer, Hadaway said, but the space is open for the community to enjoy.
“We really would like to see it used by more people than just the church,” she said. “It’s in our care, but we really want the community to feel they could use it as they want.”
The property has a gazebo, access to bathrooms and features a walking path called “The Good Trail,” which was named after the Rev. Steve Good, who was pastor of the church for 18 years before moving out of the area.
Along the trail are signs with questions and prayers for those who want to take a spiritual walk, Hadaway said.
To celebrate 125 years in Sugar Grove, the church is hosting a potluck and pig roast.
Hadaway said the public is welcome and that church members will supply the potluck dishes.
The Rev. John Smith, who was pastor from 1985 to 1994, plans to be in attendance, Hadaway said.
Today, the church has 400 members who are active in giving back to the community, Hadaway said.
“It’s really important for us to, you know, be a presence in the community as far as mission work goes,” she said. “We do a lot of mission work and a lot of outreach to support the people in our community.”
Outreach includes working with a local dentist, Donald Fee, who matches funds raised by Sugar Grove United Methodist Church members so he can perform free dental work.
Church members also are active in giving to the Hesed House in Aurora, Mutual Ground in Aurora and the Between Friends Food Pantry in Sugar Grove.
Church members also show their support during tough times by offering families a prayer quilt, Hadaway said.
When someone has a death in the family, for example, church members pass around a prayer quilt during a worship service, saying a prayer and tying a knot in the quilt, which is then consecrated and sent to the family.
“We feel like it’s important for us to make sure we’re out in our community and that we’re responding to the needs of people in our community, as well as throughout the world, and share what we have,” she said. “The property, the church building – it’s all been given to us as a gift to share, so we feel it’s really important to make sure we’re doing that.”
If you go
What: Sugar Grove United Methodist Church’s 125th anniversary celebration, which includes a pig roast and potluck
Where: 176 Main St., Sugar Grove
When: Noon on Sunday after Sunday school at 9:30 a.m. and worship at 10:30 a.m.