A Brief History of The First United Church of Bensenville
The first congregation of what is now the First United Methodist Church of Bensenville was composed primarily of a group of people of German descent from Warren, Pennsylvania. They were a hard-working people intent on farming. This group, in their search for a communal expression of their faith, initially gathered at one anothers homes for worship. Occasionally, they were served by inherent preachers or circuit riders. They remained in touch with their church home of Warren, occasionally requesting aid, and as a result, a preacher was sent to their area. The first formal service was held on July 25, 1837 in North Northfield by Rev. Jacob Boaz. A granite boulder and bronze plaque commemorate the spot of this first service.
The first ten years (1837-47) were marked by no formal preacher or meeting place. some services were held in Dunklees Grove, located in southwest Bensenville, along Salt Creek. In 1847, Mr. Deibert offered his home as a regular meeting place for services. The first acknowledged leader was Christian Ebenger.
When Deibert moved, the meeting place was moved to an old school building located on land belonging to M.L. Dunlap. William Stueve, son of Henry Stueve, one of the original members eventually purchased the land from Mr. Dunlap. Today, this area is part of OHare Airport.
In 1853, Henry Schmidt, a member of the congregation, donated the parcel of land located at the corner of Third Avenue and Church Road. the first church building was erected here. It was dedicated into service by Bishop John Sebert in 1854. In 1865, the building was moved to Cogswell Corner on Irving Park and Mt. Prospect Roads. The congregation went through a strong growth and in 1874 it was decided to build a new church at this location, where it remained for 11 years. The cemetery for this congregation is located on half mile north. 1887 saw the congregation move to east Lincoln Street where it remained until 1967. The approximate location was the Jiminez Market, now an opened field at the Northeast corner of York and Greeen Street, owned by OHare Airport. When the church moved in 1887, the congregation split into two groups, which were made mission churches.
Between 1943 and 1947, the church was removed from mission status and became a self-supporting congregation. Property was purchased on Green Street in 1957 and in 1960 the congregation accepted the challenge to build a new church. Initially, the church was to be built facing Green Street, but later the plans changed to the present location. Our church was dedicated on November 12, 1967.
We celebrated the retiring of our mortgage on the property and buildings in September 1986. Through the installation of a lift, in 1998, we have made our church more accessible. The previous parsonage has been registered as "Section 8" housing for DuPage County. the present parsonage, located on Hawthorne Street, was built in 1989. the name of our church was formally changed to The First United Methodist of Bensenville on 9/11/2001. The visions of earlier members to move locations have truly been a blessing that has expanded the options and ministry of our church
A quote from an earlier history of the church stated, "The story of the Church has been a story of people who believed in God, and were willing to work towards the establishment of His Kingdom in Bensenville. Sometimes the people have been generations of the same ancestor, sometimes it has been individuals or families who have come and gone almost like fleeting thoughts. the church has survived and prospered and today reflects to the world the images of people, both past and present, who have worshipped here. Today we are recognized as one of the first churches of the Midwest with a heritage of over 175 years. Many people have sacrificed and contributed to the heritage we have..."
Open hearts...Open Minds...Open Doors
As we celebrate over 175 years of our church, may we recognize and appreciate the efforts of those before us and look forward to the years ahead with renewed spirit and continuing faith. Let us truly embrace the motto of the United Methodist Church.
Originally Prepared By: Pat Patterson
Updated By: Dean Cramer and Shirley Reuss (June 2012)