First Union Congregational Church (which is often affectionately referred to as “The Congo”) is the first church ever started in Quincy, Illinois. In fact, Quincy wasn’t even officially a town at the time that this congregation began meeting. Western Illinois was mostly untamed frontier when Asa Turner moved with his wife Martha to Quincy and ushered the founding of this church.
Drawing of the “Lord’s Barn” by V.G. Musselman in 1950
At first, the congregation met in a log cabin, but before too long the church began to congregate at a building near the Mississippi river nicknamed “The Lord’s Barn.” By 1873 and after some periodic location changes, the congregation had made its a final move to 12th and Maine. In March of 1970 First Union Congregational Church had built the place of worship and education we meet in today.
For the last 185 years, our transitions in and out of buildings and locations were mirrored in spiritual ups and downs. Split and a reunion, wars and depressions, boom times and busts. And we thank God for that history, because it offers much for us to be proud of and to learn from. For instance, our church took a strong stance advocating for the abolition of slaves in the mid-1800s and it stood just as firmly in support of the civil rights movement in the 1960s.
Painting of the original Revival Gothic Building on 12th and Maine, 1873-1970
But God has also brought us through difficult times, even reuniting our congregation after a split in the 1870s–a reunification culminated in the relocation of the congregation’s meeting to Twelfth and
Maine and the renaming of our church to First Union Congregational. Even just as recently as 2013 our church was in dire enough straits that it nearly had to close its doors. But God has answered our prayers in ways we couldn’t have imagined, and we are experiencing a reinvigorating move of God’s Spirit and Word!
You can read much more about our history by clicking the link below. But more than our history, we’re seeking God for greater things still to come because Jesus is the same yesterday, today, and forever.
First Union Congregational Church History