In the year of 1837 Woodburn, Macoupin County, Illinois was a cluster of a half dozen dwellings on the stage route between Chicago and St. Louis. Vast prairies surrounded the small settlement. The tiny community was without a church and the nearest Congregational and Presbyterian churches were located in Carlinville, Alton and Edwardsville. Several residents were Congregationalists from New England who wished to band together for worship and fellowship in a common faith.
On Sunday, March 25, 1838 the Woodburn Congregational Church was organized. It was financed by the Home Missionary Society. The founder, Rev. Robert Blake was installed as pastor with a salary of $150 per year. He served until his death at the age of 71 in 1842. The records list approximately forty persons who worshipped for the first two years in various homes.
In 1838 or 1839 a wooden structure 20' x 24' was erected on the present site. It served as a church school and town hall. The furnishings were made up of a small green baize covered desk on a raised platform, old wooden benches, and tin holders for tallow candles at the three windows on each side.
On January 31, 1840 the name was officially changed to "The Congregational Church of Bunker Hill and Woodburn." On September 13, 1942 the church was reorganized on its original basis and the official name was "The First Congregational Church of Woodburn". The second pastor was now Rev. J. S. Graves. The Sunday School was organized in April 1843 to meet every two weeks with E. B. Goddard as Superintendent.
In these early days, rules were very strict. People were brought to trial for such offences as neglecting public worship of God in His house and absenting himself from the ordinances of the Lord's Supper.
The Ladies' Aid Society was organized on November 4, 1847. Both men and women belonged to the Society and made vests, stockings, quilted petticoats (about 250) and knitted hose (about 150).
On January 16, 1851, Rev. Spaulding presented plans for systematic contributions to home and foreign missions, education, Bible and Tract Society and to Illinois College. At this time Mr. Barley was to find someone to warm the church and light the lamps on Sunday.
In March of 1854 the new brick church building was dedicated. The sermon was given by Rev. C. B. Barton. Others assisting were Elder Dodson, Rev. Platt of Brighton and Rev. Charles Temple of Monticello.
November, 1871 -- The great fire in Chicago. The Woodburn church collected and sent $43.75.
Early members brought letters from Hartest, England in 1875 (Rev. and Mrs. Charles Slater), Moorland, England in 1870 (Mr. and Mrs. Wm. Mitchell), and Aberdeen, Scotland in 1858 (Charles Skine). Rosa Bird, later a missionary, joined the church March 28, 1877. She was killed in the Boxer uprising in China, 1900.
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