It was the year BOB ZUPPKE’s Illini were crowned college football’s national co-champs, SHOELESS JOE’s Black Sox earned a place in baseball infamy and Chicago’s streets were the site of some of the deadliest race riots in Illinois history.
In Danville, one of the most newsworthy events of 1919 was the merging of First Methodist Episcopal and Kimber Methodist Episcopal into one.
St. James United Methodist, still going strong a century later at 504 N. Vermilion St., will mark its 100-year anniversary with a special celebration next month.
Rather than the usual four Sunday services, Pastor RANDALL ROBINSON said just one will be held on Sept. 22, at 10 a.m., followed by dinner for the congregation of 600.
The church has a long, proud history, says its eight-year pastor. A brief history, courtesy of the 64-year-old Robinson:
— After making do with a log-cabin house of worship for 20 years, Danville Methodists erected a more traditional-looking church on Old North Street in 1857.
“It was one of the finest houses of worship in East Central Illinois,” he says.
— A decade later, as the country was healing from the Civil War, the Methodists of Danville split into two groups. It wasn’t until just after World War I that First Methodist and Kimber Methodist put their differences aside and reunited.
— The current building was designed in 1926 by architect HARVEY SKADDEN, who was inspired by the Gothic cathedrals he had seen in France while serving in the Army during the Great War.
— Among its notable members: former U.S. House Speaker JOE CANNON.
— St. James is renowned for its many ministries over the years — from the existing food pantry that serves about 400 families on the third Wednesday of the month to the good deeds of the 1970s, when members learned of two Vietnamese families in need of help.
“Our members provided them with housing and helped them get acclimated to American culture,” Robinson says. “We also made sure the kids got into school. The whole idea was to make sure these families were provided for as they made their new homes in America.”