History

The history of this congregation began in 1853, when a group of Swedish settlers began meeting for worship in a tool shed next to the Salisbury grain elevator. They asked Pastor Erland Carlsson to come from Chicago and help them organize an official church. From 1854 to 1856 the people attended worship at the Scandinavian Evangelical Lutheran Church in Rockford (today known as First Lutheran Church, Rockford.) In 1857 a wooden building was erected near the corner of Taylor and Eighth streets (across the creek from the location of the present church building) and Swedish Evangelical Lutheran Church became a part of the Augustana Synod. From 1857 to 1860, Pastor A. Andreen came from the “mother church” in Rockford to the Pecatonica church once a month for worship and pastoral acts.

The present church building was constructed in 1881. The congregation continued to worship in Swedish until 1923, when the name of the congregation was changed to its present name, First Evangelical Lutheran Church, and worship was thereafter conducted in English. The building was completely re-bricked in 1923; a stained-glass window restoration was carried out in the 1970’s; a two-floor addition was built in 1984, creating a new fellowship hall, classroom and office space, and an expansion of the seating area in the sanctuary. The north church wall was removed to create this seating area and existing stained-glass windows were relocated to the office and classroom area. In 2002-3, the sanctuary was renovated, air conditioning was added to the worship space, and the parsonage was renovated to create a children’s ministry center called “Creation Station.” In 2006, the church acquired property adjacent to the children’s ministry center to be used for future expansion.