Epiphany is part of a larger church family called the ELCA, which stands for the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America. Our church is named after Martin Luther, a church reformer who lived in the 1500’s. Among other things, Martin Luther taught that God’s love and forgiveness can’t be earned by us. They are God’s gifts, given to us freely through our faith in Jesus Christ. At Epiphany, we believe that God’s gift of grace saves us AND frees us to act with love and forgiveness in ways that will make the world around us a better place. If you’d like to know more about the ELCA, you can click this link: http://www.elca.org/Faith/ELCA-Teaching
Epiphany’s first church service, attended by 14, was held in Lincoln School on Sunday morning, December 14, 1924. The present building did not exist. In fact, there was no church site. The problems of financing a church and the advisability of launching a building program lay heavily on the hearts of the small group. Nevertheless, they were determined that there would be a church serving this community. It is to their credit that they accepted this challenge.
This first small group was encouraged by a gradual increase in membership. In early 1925, temporary church council members were elected: E.W. Westerman, Secretary; J.E. Nelson, Treasurer; Charles L. Thompson, Sr.; F.A. Wendt; and O. Lombein. On March 2, 1925, the council adopted the organization’s constitution and the church was named Epiphany Lutheran Church.
The present site of our church was selected by a committee composed of E.W. Westerman, W.R. Burdsall and Arthur L. Long, Sr. Construction of the chapel was pushed rapidly to have the building completed by Easter of 1926. The dedication service, led by Dr. John M. Bramkamp, President of the Illinois Synod, was held on April 4, 1926. This historical event also marked the first appearance of an Epiphany choir. Pastor Carl Walter was our first pastor. That spring, the first confirmation class was added to the church membership.
As the membership increased, a new facility was needed. Pastor Addy and the church council created a building fund to raise a new church facing Vallette Street in 1950. Groundbreaking was in April 1954, and the new building was dedicated February 13, 1955. The Sunday School continued to meet in the old church for several years.
Pastor Robert Hooker came to the church in 1964, and a new building fund was established to accommodate the Sunday School. A new addition was added, the church was remodeled, and the old church was demolished. In 1969, the new wing was dedicated. By this time, there were 875 members and 161 children in a Sunday School staffed by 44 teachers. After Pastor Hooker accepted a call to another church, Pastor Ken McKnight became the new pastor. Another building fund was established to build a new nave, obtain a new pipe organ and enlarge the seating, because the church had grown.
By this time, the church had celebrated its 60th anniversary. A new sanctuary was built for worship, with the design symbolizing the story of Epiphany’s namesake: the stained glass Star lights the way above the back wall that is shaped like the barn, housing baby Jesus in the manger that is represented by the altar. Additionally, a new pipe organ was installed and the current nave became “Epiphany Center.” This “center” serves for meetings, small dinners, and coffee time. A new kitchen was built for the first floor and a new sacristy and small chapel were added. These additions were dedicated in 1989.
In 2019, Epiphany celebrated its 95th anniversary.