By Shirley Winters
ILLIOPOLIS – Illiopolis UMC recently celebrated its 40th anniversary of the current church facility.
The church’s sanctuary was decorated with fresh flowers on the altar and blue, silver and white balloons down the center aisle. Several persons from Illiopolis’ sister church in Niantic as well as former members of the church joined in the celebration.
Dr. Terry Harter, Sangamon River District Superintendent, and his wife, Dr. Martha Harter were also present for the celebration. Dr. Terry Harter delivered the morning’s message, Build It, He Will Come.
Many songs and readings from the original dedication service held Aug. 30, 1970 were used during the service. Ed Bliler played the organ prelude and also accompanied Emily Strum as she sang How Beautiful Upon the Mountain as she had in 1970.
Current church pastor, Rev. C.W. Reneker, Jr., also sang a solo, Joy’s Gonna Come and the combined choirs of Niantic and Illiopolis sang under the direction of Marge Stout, who also gave the call to worship and the invocation in additional to playing for the rest of the service. Jake Stahl, Delores Dudas, Denzil Howard and Lora Batchelder also participated in the worship service.
The children’s bell choir under the direction of Cindy Ervin presented two musical selections. Youth members Brian and Brandon Batchelder, Madison and MacKenzie Kohal, Casey and Jane Huckaba, Carter and Kennedy Hartwig and Ally Wilcox were recognized for their assistance in the celebration, as well as Michelle, Josh and Michael Lee.
Following worship, a potluck dinner was served by the church’s United Methodist Women’s unit. Each table was decorated with blue, silver and white and carried the day’s theme, Come Home, which was printed on the napkins.
Banners, photograph books with historical information and a DVD of church activities were available for viewing during lunch.
An afternoon musical program featured The Wanda Mountain Boys, a Southern gospel group from the Metro East area, as well as four-hand piano duets by Peggy Dunn and Sharolyn Griesheim, and piano solos by Marge Stout.
The planning committee for the day’s event was comprised of church historian Audra Howard, pastor C.W. Reneker, Stout, Heather Hartwig and Shirley Winters.