Our warm, inviting, vital church of more than 150 members welcomes all who enter our doors, in the name of Jesus Christ. We have a wide-variety of ages with an older-age leaning tendency and some families with children, with everyone else falling in-between.
We have programs for all ages such as Muppet-type Puppet Ministry, a women’s group, a very active Mission (helping others) Task Force, Sunday School for all ages, joyful, meaningful worship each Sunday and on special occasions such as Christmas Eve and Maundy Thursday, times we gather for fellowship after church and fun and interesting All-Church Outings once a quarter, choirs, Bible Study, and so much more.
For those interested, they can find something with which to offer their time and abilities (stewardship). Our ministry and mission are very important to us as we learn more about God and the Bible, what God wants for our lives as directed by the Holy Spirit, and as we reach out to help others in service to Christ.
Come worship and/or participate in other areas of the life of this blessed and blessing congregation. We are located at 241 West Court Street in Paris Illinois, across from Joe’s Pizza in a beautiful stone church building with incredible stain glass windows.
The Presbyterian Church of Paris, Illinois, was organized November 6, 1824. The founding took place in a log school house on the corner of the alley east of and behind the Alexander House, he current home of the Bicentennial Art Center and Museum. In those days, bands of Indians roved these prairies. The Kickapoos used this area for their hunting grounds. Deer and wild turkey abounded.
Twelve people founded the church. This small group of dedicated men and women blazed a trail into a wilderness environment and established a means of religious expression for themselves and future generations. Descendants of these founders are members of the church today. The first church Session, consisting of three men, was installed November 7, 1824. The Session then met to examine and admit fourteen new members.
The first church building, a plain brick structure on a sandstone foundation, was erected in 1834 at 114 East Washington Street. The building was not ready for occupancy until late 1835, nor was it permanently floored and seated until 1839. It was a one story building, 30 feet by 50 feet, the gable on the street side, a single entrance in that end, and four windows on each side. The church cost $1,000.
Following a long list of “State Supplies,” the first regular pastor was called in the spring of 1853. A second and larger brick church was constructed in 1855 on North Central Avenue at a cost of $9,000. By this time, the congregation had grown to more than 100 members.
The ground-breaking for the current building on West Court Street took place on March 21, 1900. Dedication services were held on Sunday, March 31, 1901. The following quotation is taken from the calendar of that day: “Dedicated this day to the worship of God and His glory forever.” The building was dedicated free or debt: the cost of the building and site was $41,750.
Perhaps nothing adds more to the feeling of beauty and peace which permeates the sanctuary than the lovely stained glass windows. Each window was paid for by members of the church as memorials or as gifts to the church. Early records state that the East window was made by Ford Brothers – Art Glass, Chicago and Minneapolis for $1500. It has been said that some of the windows were purchased in Chicago from a church whose building had been destroyed by fire but there is no confirmation of this or other records.
On December 7, 1987, a major renovation was undertaken, which included excavation under the Sanctuary for a new Christian Education Center. Also on the lower level, the kitchen, fellowship hall, and nursery were completely remodeled, and new restrooms were installed. On the upper level, the parlor, office, choir room and kitchen were remodeled, and new restrooms were installed. The cost of this project was $528,000.
Another major renovation took place in 2011 with the addition of a wing to the west that included a new office for the church secretary, elevator, and wheel chair entrances. The cost for the project was $313,250.
The Sonshine Puppeteers were formed in June 2002 for children in grades three and above and adults of all ages. The Puppeteers were organized in the fall of the following year for students in grades kindergarten through grade two. The mission of the puppet teams is ministry: ministering to the congregation during worship services, to other churches when invited, and to the community at large.
The church has become more diverse and ecumenical. In 2004, the Pastoral Nominating Committee called the church’s first clergy couple which included the first female pastor to serve the church.
Through the Grace of God, this congregation now exceeds 150 members. The Session and Board of Deacons are the governing bodies of the church. Christian education, fellowship groups for all ages, musical organizations, service groups, outreach projects and social functions are the basis for a comprehensive program to supplement the worship services. The creation of the Mission Task Force have made mission efforts more expansive and hands on with a greater focus on local mission, more diverse and more ecumenical. The congregation offers a spiritual home to those who desire to participate in worship, study, and service based on love and faith, as Christians were commissioned to do 2,000 years ago.
The Session of the Presbyterian Church of Paris, Illinois, welcomes all who desire to witness to their faith by uniting with the church, whether by profession of faith, reaffirmation of faith, or transfer by letter from another church. Yesterday, today, and tomorrow bring us new inspiration for greater love and dedicated service to the Glory of our Good and His Son Jesus, and to our community and all people.
In Memory of
OLIVE MARIE HODGE
May 28, 1896 – January 3, 1984