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4:13 Exercise Group
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Bible Search

About The Episcopal Church
of the Redeemer

The Historic Episcopal Church in Historic Downtown Elgin

Having celebrated its sesquicentennial in 2008, Episcopal Church of the Redeemer looks back on over 150 years of a being a presence of Anglican Christianity in the Elgin area. The Episcopal Church is part of the world-wide Anglican Communion which has roots in both the historic Catholic tradition stretching back over a thousand years and in the English Protestant Reformation of the 16th century. As a "middle way" between the Protestant churches and Roman Catholicism, Anglican/Episcopal Christianity has served as a meeting place for Christians from both traditions.

True to their identity as Episcopalians, the people of Church of the Redeemer give glory to God through the solemnity of traditional worship, through majestic music, and through the beauty and sanctity of their worship space. True to the command of Jesus, they reach out to the poor and disadvantaged of their community. Heeding the words of St. Paul, that, in Christ, there are no artificial divisions of national origin or culture, Church of the Redeemer welcomes people of diverse backgrounds and takes pride in having a congregation with roots in both Anglo and Hispanic cultures. Offering support and friendship to fellow parishioners, the people of Redeemer "rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep." Addressing the mind as well as tending to the heart, Church of the Redeemer offers its members opportunities for continued religious education and for honest discussion of the challenges of living out the message of the Gospel in a secular world.

Guests are welcomed at Church of the Redeemer as Christ would be, with open doors, open minds and open hearts. Join us in worship, in fellowship and in serving others. Experience our tradition as you seek God in Christ.

Our History
The history of any church must begin, not with its building, but with its people, for church buildings exist only to house the worship and ministry of the people who gather there week by week in the Lord's name. The first Episcopal congregation in Elgin met for 24 years without a building of its own.

The Rev. J.H. Waterbury, the first priest to serve an Episcopal congregation in Elgin, has left us with a record of the parish's first days in his diary: "And the hand of God was shown on the next day. For on Sunday, December 27, 1857, there were over fifty present, with a number of Prayer Books which enabled me to hear good responses. The churchmen present gathered around the minister and desired arrangement to be made for regular services which I agreed to hold every two weeks."

After a service on Ash Wednesday, February 17, 1858, the Episcopalians of Elgin were organized into a parish with Buel Sherman and Robert Blenkiron as wardens, and Father Waterbury as rector. At the first Easter service held in Elgin, twenty members received Holy Communion.

Several decades after the founding of the parish, H. Lee Borden, a member of another denomination, but whose wife was an Episcopalian, presented the parish with the lot on which our present church is located. Mr. Borden paid $300 for the property and made the stipulation that a chapel costing not less than $3,000 be built thereon.

Ground for our present church was broken on September 1, 1880, and the cornerstone laid on September 18 by Bishop McLaren, assisted by the two faithful priests from Dundee. The structure was built at a cost of $5,000, and the people raised this sum so that our first church was consecrated April 13, 1882.

The parish experienced rapid growth in the succeeding years. However, tragedy struck the parish for the first time on early Sunday morning, October 22, 1916 when a fire swept through the church. It was doubly heartbreaking to the parishioners, for they had just completed an extensive renovating project. Over $4,500 had been raised for improvements and redecorating.

Five hundred people gathered at the corner of Center and Highland Avenue on March 19, 1917, to witness the laying of the cornerstone of the new church building. Police and city officials joined the choir, acolytes, vestry, clergy, and Bishop Fawcett in a processional to the chosen spot. Several old documents taken from the cornerstone were placed in the new cornerstone. These included a copy of the Holy Bible, several Prayer Books, a hymnal and Elgin papers of that year.

Once again, the parish experienced a period of growth. And then, just as the world was beginning to recover from the Great Depression, fire struck the church again on Palm Sunday, March 25, 1934. This time it was necessary to hold services elsewhere and every Sunday an altar was set up a nearby funeral home. The damage, however, was not as extensive as in the first fire. By November 30 of that year the church was restored, and Bishop George Craig Stewart blessed the restored church and the many memorials that had been presented by the people.

In July, 1956, the Rev. George F. Schiffmayer accepted the call to the parish and led it for 22 years, the longest term of any rector. Those 22 years saw many changes in Redeemer. The old parish office structure was removed to make way for a new office and classrooms.

The Rev. Randall H. Haycock served as rector from 1986 to 2000. In the late 1980's, as downtown Elgin became more urban in character, the parish responded to the growing needs of the homeless and poor though an ecumenical feeding ministry and an emergency shelter for the homeless. In 1992 a ministry to the Hispanic population in the Elgin area was begun. Hispanic members and services are now an integral part of the life of the Redeemer family.

The Rev. Pedro N. Lopez began his ministry in 2004-2011. Under his leadership, the congregation has experienced growth within the Hispanic community, a renewed interest in healing and laying on of hands, as well as greater diversity in liturgy.  Rev. Uriel Lopez was installed as Rector of Church of the Redeemer in February, 2013, committed to continuing Redeemer's unique bi-lingual, bi-cultural ministry.

In 2008, the people of Episcopal Church of the Redeemer joyfully celebrated their sesquicentennial, grateful to God for his faithfulness and confident of His continued blessing and guidance.