History of the Church
In 1987 the History and Archives committee was formed under
the leadership of Millicent Kreischer. For 20 years now a
valuable church archive has been collected and catalogued
according to a logical system formulated by Harold
Hutchings, a professional archivist. Minutes, events,
building plans, photographs, artifacts and other records are
kept for easy reference and retrieval.
From History of First Presbyterian
Church Lake Forest, Illinois, 1859-1984
In 1856 a group from the Second Presbyterian Church in
Chicago came to what is now Lake Forest looking for a place
a community centered on educational mission. Lake Forest
provided an alternative to Chicago which was already becoming
a rough environment in which to raise a family. In the
1850’s the community had its beginning around the
Old Hotel in Triangle Park. As a matter of course these
earnest and committed Presbyterians founded a church for
themselves on July 24, 1859: the First Presbyterian Church
of Lake Forest.
The first church building was erected in 1862. The building
has undergone growth and change as the needs and size of
the congregation has changed. The church has reflected the
goals of its founders to live together as a community dedicated
to a Christian life and to betterment on earth through education
From the very beginning education was an integral part of
the life of the church community. Young and old attended
Sunday School taught by the elders and trustees and members
of Lake Forest University faculty. The children were gathered
to form the Steady Streams Missionary Society which became
a model for other churches and lasted 90 years. The first
Vacation Bible School was held in 1936. A 3 day a week junior
kindergarten began in 1964 that has expanded to serve 3
to 5 year olds today.
Music has been vital to the worship life of the church from
the beginning. Early services included a volunteer choir
accompanied by a hand-blown organ. A two manual organ was
installed at the front of the sanctuary in 1886, a student
from Lake Forest Academy was hired as organist and singing
in worship was led by a professional quartet. A congregational
choir replaced the professional quartet in 1939 and continues
today. High school youth led a jazz mass in 1966. The current
Casavant organ was installed in 1973 in the balcony where
the choir is now placed.
From the earliest moments, “systematic contributions”
were encouraged with particular Sundays designated for major
benevolences. The list of benevolences increased over time
with a goal of 30% of the total budget going to mission.
All the women’s groups were combined into the Women’s
Association who took over the annual spring rummage sale
from the local YWCA to ensure benevolent support. In the
1970’s, a Day Care Center served children from Waukegan
five days a week. Members are active throughout the county
and larger community in many ministries that have direct
effect on those served.
We look forward to celebrating 175 years in 2034.