1953 was a big year of celebration for the First Presbyterian Church of Urbana.
First, there had been a huge endeavor within the church structure to improve the usage of space for contemporary worship.
Secondly, the much-beloved pastor, Rev. Malcolm D. Hooker, had completed his book “The History of Presbyterianism in Champaign County 1802-1953.” A new organ was installed, along with a revision of the choir loft. Many church services were held to recognize the various events. A service even was held on the grounds of the old Buck Creek Presbyterian Church, which had preceded the Urbana Church in the county.
Members of the church and its pastor were very active in the community, and 1953 was just after the beginning of true post-World War II joyous styles of living. Persons in the community were grateful for the relaxation of war-time restrictions. (Recently, we may have encountered similar states of being.) All of the local churches held full services and Sunday mornings were sacred.)
Next year will be the 70th anniversary of that year, and local Presbyterians plan to enjoy those memories.
Several years ago church member Janet Ebert was asked to write an update for the well-worn volume written by Rev. Hooker.
She has been collecting stories and memorabilia since that time. She is requesting some assistance from the community – stories of happenings, local persons–- anything that might be of interest in this time of celebration. Any person wishing to share such items may leave them at the church, or contact Ebert in person.
There is a committee helping with the book. An outline has been approved. There will be a review of the history given by Hooker. The follow-up will mention the ministers and work of the church since.
Many photos have been located for the project. One such was on a glass negative recovered by Dr. Ward Lutz, at the Champaign County Historical Museum. He managed to make a copy of a large group of young persons gathering in front of the church on June 13, 1929. Committee members are looking for information regarding the occasion.
Another photo shows the three church choirs in 1980.
Info from Dr. Janet Ebert