Church History


Located in central Illinois, in the southern section of Logan County along historical U.S. Route 66, the Village of Elkhart dates back to its first white settlement in 1819, located on the brow of the hill known as “Elkhart Grove.”  It was here that James Latham, his son Richard, and Ebenezer Briggs arrived in the area and built their cabins.  Other settlers soon followed and cleared the land for farming. In 1838, John Dean Gillette moved to the area, taking on large amounts of land for livestock.   Another cattle man, John Shockey from Pennsylvania, made the journey to buy cattle from Elkhart Grove and relocated to the hill. A man of vision, Shockey laid out the town of Elkhart and left land for churches, businesses, and homes. 


It was John Shockey’s heirs, Daniel and Mary Shockey, who gifted two lots on block four of Elkhart to be the site of the Elkhart Christian Church.  The very first building for the congregation, actually organized in 1865, was built in 1867. It is believed that Elder Davidson was the first Image of Original Church Buildingresident pastor in 1873. The initial congregation was small and struggled, often times without a pastor and without services.  For a period of time, the building was rented by the Episcopal congregation. With the help of Mrs. C. B. Taylor, the church was reorganized in 1886; and the church began to grow.  By 1889, a parsonage was built for a permanent minister.  Following that, the next earliest recorded date of ministers serving the church is 1890, as D. H. Shanklin served for only a few months while he also served the Christian Church in Broadwell, Illinois. Between 1891 and 1904, the records indicate two other ministers serving, with periods of no minister of record.  Until July 1982, the Elkhart Christian Church pulpit was filled by part-time ministers. 


The first major structural change to the church building was in 1915-1916, under the leadership of Pastor O. P. Wright who served from 1914 to 1917.  At this time the building was enlarged and a balcony and basement were added.  Up until the late 1960s, classes were held in the parsonage located next to the church facility, at which time the parsonage was demolished and an educational building was built on that ground.  The parsonage was never replaced.


Another building modification was made in 1985, when the pipe organ from the home of Governor Richard Oglesby (14th governor of Illinois whose home was located on the east side of Elkhart Hill) , was gifted to the church by Susan Green.  In order to accommodate the organ and its pipes, the front of the sanctuary was reconfigured and the organ installed.


Image of Current Church BuildingIn 1990, Elkhart Christian Church marked its 125th year with a three-day celebration. The last structural change took place in 1991-1992, with a new entrance, new foyer, and an enlarged sanctuary.  Two basement classrooms were added along with new stairways to the second floor and the basement. A large and beautiful front window was designed from a combination of the old stained glass windows.  A rededication service was held on September 13, 1992. The year 2010 marked the 145th anniversary of the Elkhart Christian Church.


In May of 2012, Elkhart Christian Church acquired the old Elkhart Grade School property.  ECC plans to transform the old EGS building into its new church facility to assist in building a community for Christ in Elkhart, Illinois.  Stay current on the status of this project by viewing BUILDING PROJECT.