Though this is the third church the colonists built, the first being temporary and the second one of logs, this is still one of the oldest buildings in Bishop Hill. There are two floors of apartments with the church sanctuary above. The ground floor and first floor have 10 rooms each, which were small apartments for colony families, each family sharing one room. Remember, meals were eaten in common at Big Brick and the bathhouse and laundry were just across the town square, so there were no kitchens. The double entry stairs were built because women entered on one side and men on the other; once inside, men sat on the west side with women and children on the east side. The original walnut pews with turned maple spindles are still used for annual church services and the occasional wedding. The chandeliers are recreations based on the one chandelier that remained. Because this was a religious commune, the church was the heart and soul of the community. Services were held daily, and often lasted 3-4 hours on Sunday afternoons. The church is now owned and managed by the State of Illinois Historic Preservation Agency. The first floor houses another of the must see museums in town. Each room has a different display including a recreation of the typical apartment with original furniture and another with replica furniture you can see and touch. There is a display of tools and another of the archeology and restoration work and an exhibit on the immigrant experience, why they left and their journey to the wilderness that was Illinois. Once a year the public is invited for an unheated, candle-lite service at dawn on Christmas morning. This Julotta service gives you a sense of the original church programs with hymns sung in Swedish and coffee and rusks served after the prayers.
Official Walking Tour Bishop Hill Illinois Guidebook to Buildings, 2010.
Wheat Flour Messiah, Eric Jansson of Bishop Hill by Paul Elmen Southern Illinois University Press 1997
History of Bishop Hill, A Story of Swedish Pioneers Collected and Compiled by Theo J. Anderson, self-published.