A BRIEF HISTORY OF CONCORD PRESBYTERIAN CHURCH

Concord met for its first worship service on August 13, 1972, in a rented building in Columbia, Illinois.  “Concord” was chosen as the name of the church since the first Presbyterian Church in Monroe County was named "Concord."  A few weeks earlier, about thirty-five people, members of two community Bible studies, which included several young adults from a local Christian coffeehouse (the "Fish House"), had approached the head of National Presbyterian Missions, the church-planting agency of the Reformed Presbyterian Church Evangelical Synod (RPCES), to learn more about starting a church.  As a consequence of a meeting with Dr. Robert Rayburn, president of Covenant Seminary, the group agreed to meet for services at the "Fish House" each Sunday, beginning August 13, 1972.

Better facilities soon became necessary. In December of 1972, the church leased and subsequently purchased a former restaurant at 835 N. Market St. in Waterloo for the church's use.  In January of 1973, Dr. Harold Mare, Professor of New Testament at Covenant Seminary, became the regular preacher for the group. 

In July of 1973, Rev. Thomas F. Jones became the Organizing Pastor with approximately ten families involved and an attendance in the high forties.  Rev. Jones also worked as a part-time instructor in Homiletics at Covenant Theological Seminary in St. Louis, and as a result, seminary students began attending and serving the church, such as John Paulsen and Will Hesterberg who worked with the Senior High Youth Group and Sunday School Class, and Seong Hwan Park who began a church choir.  Attendance figures averaged in the high sixties and seventies. In the fall of 1974, a Monday night Bible study group began in Waterloo as an outreach to the Waterloo community.

A training class for elders resulted in three men being trained and then elected: Charles Todd, Andrew Burgess, and J. Steven Brown.  A church constitution, by-laws, and statement of specific purpose were adopted by the congregation and approved by the commission of presbytery.  On April 18, 1976, Concord Church became a particular church of the (RPCES).  The congregation also called Rev. Thomas Jones as their first pastor.  Forty-two members comprised the congregation with attendance averaging over one hundred ten.

In 1977, Illiana Presbytery called Rev. Jones to serve as Presbytery Evangelist.  The Concord congregation then called Rev. Barry McWilliams as Pastor, who served the congregation until April, 1979.  Dr. Robert Reymond, a professor from Covenant Seminary, then served as Stated Supply from June, 1979, until mid-1985.  During his tenure (in June, 1982) the (RPCES) merged and was received by another Bible-based Presbyterian denomination, the Presbyterian Church in America (PCA), creating one larger denomination.

The congregation extended a call to Rev. Daniel Dermyer in the summer of 1985.  He arrived that September, and shepherded the congregation for the next eight years, during which it grew and worshipped in two services.

Then, in the Lord's providential care, Rev. Will Hesterberg relocated to Waterloo in mid- 1993, and he served as pulpit supply the very next Sunday after Rev. Dermyer’s departure.  Several months later, the congregation extended a call to him, and he was installed on May 22, 1994, as Concord's fourth full-time pastor.

On July 9, 1997, Concord Presbyterian Church took an historic step at its annual congregational meeting.  The congregation voted overwhelmingly to purchase property at a new location, to sell its current property, and to build a facility more suitable for worship, discipleship, and service.

During that time, the pastor, elders, and deacons sought to refine Concord's focus by discovering God's vision for the church.  Concord chose as its vision statement: "A church where you can grow and serve for God's glory by His grace."  In December, 1997, the church purchased property on Covington Drive in Waterloo, and in January, 1998, a building design committee began its work. 

In 1999-2000, two key events happened which would impact Concord's future.  In October of 1999, Darren Smith became an intern. Work by the design committee led to a congregational meeting in June 2000, authorizing the session to spend over a million dollars on the new building project.  Ed Pfeiffer, George Larson, and Konrad Kloos became overseers of the new building construction.

In January of 2001, the old building was sold, and Concord began worshiping at Rogers Elementary School.  The sale of our meeting place created the need for small groups to meet in homes (care groups) in order to foster more fellowship.  As progress on the new building continued, Concord members held an Easter sunrise service on the church property and then followed with a groundbreaking ceremony in May, 2001.  That summer, Darren Smith was hired as Assistant to the Pastor.

As Concord continued to work on the new building, the Lord was also creating in Concord a desire to get more involved in missions.  In July of 2001, seventeen youth and adults traveled to West Virginia.  Meanwhile, building construction continued, and by August of 2001, the basement concrete had been poured.  January of 2002 saw the cornerstone for the building placed in position.  At the same time, Concord received an unexpected blessing as Christ Presbyterian Church in Owensboro, Kentucky, offered the church a three-year, interest-free loan of $60,000.

In June of 2002, church furnishings were brought from storage and Concord began regular Sunday worship services in the new building.  The dedication service for the new building followed in August of 2002, with Dr. Bryan Chapell as the key speaker.  Meanwhile, for many months, men and women worked to finish the basement Fellowship Hall, classrooms, and bathrooms so that, with much praise, in September of 2003, the church celebrated with its first fellowship meal!

Concord's mission work took another big step forward as the church began planning a short- term mission trip to Belize for the summer of 2003.  In August of 2003, the Concord Belize Mission Team returned safely from its international trip with a sense of excitement about the impact of missions on all who are involved.

In August 2004, Concord began Supper Clubs, a new ministry to grow Concord relationships; and in October of 2004, the first training class for Stephen Ministers was held.  Concord also hosted the Illiana Reformation Service to mark Reformation Sunday.

In 2005 and 2006, Concord expanded its staff, first with Assistant Pastor Darren Smith being ordained on May 1, 2005.  That August, the Session called Rev. Curt Rabe to serve as another Assistant to the Pastor with the assignment to help launch a Bible study group and potential second church site in Columbia.  In 2006, the church added another staff person, Administrative Assistant Jennifer Bullock, who began her service in January of 2007.

Also in 2005, Concord began a new ministry to children: the Good News Club, at Zahnow Elementary School.  That same fall, Concord began publishing a monthly newsletter, The Concord Vine.

In 2007, missions work expanded with a mission team traveling for a fourth consecutive year to Belize to help our sister church, Ebenezer Presbyterian Church, with various projects.  Also that summer, Concord spearheaded the purchase of a bus for Presbyterian Day School in Belize, as well as sending a second mission team to Biloxi, Mississippi, to help with Hurricane Katrina recovery.  The church retired its remaining debt on the building in the fall, well ahead of schedule, thanks to God's abundant blessing to the congregation and the generosity of many in the congregation.  Concord sent out two mission teams that summer, one to Belize and a second to Iowa to help with flood clean-up.

The congregation approved the recommendations of the session for a multi-site expansion at Concord’s annual meeting in 2007.  In April of 2008, New Harmony site began at the Monroe County YMCA, under the preaching and teaching of Rev. J. Dawson Miller.  After two years of regular worship and service, however, the work sadly ended due to a lack of fruit.  About this same time, Concord hired two youth interns from Covenant Seminary to help out with the youth program: Marian Kern and Jason Knox.

The congregation accepted Darren Smith’s resignation in July of 2011 and voted in August, 2011 to call Bill Thomas as Associate Pastor to work with young families. During this time Pastor Hesterberg began to plan his retirement from Concord to work with the International Theological Education Ministries (ITEM) as its first full-time director of development. Roxanne Devine diligently served as the Office Administrator from December 2012 to May 2014. In June 2013, a group from Concord went to Joplin, Missouri to assist in tornado rebuilding efforts. 

The congregation formed a search committee and Pastor Will concluded his call as Concord’s senior pastor after nearly 20 years of service at the end of 2013.  Pastor Thomas helped to lead the congregation in the time of transition and continued as Associate Pastor until he tendered his resignation in early 2015 to pursue other places of service.  

Concord extended a call to Pastor Andrew Cheatham in early 2014, and he was installed that May as Concord’s sixth senior pastor.  During Pastor Cheatham’s tenure, Concord began a public Food Pantry, a local outreach program at Caywood’s Youth Center, a choir for homeschool students, and travelled to Yakima, Washington in June 2014 on a mission trip to assist Native Americans on the Yakima Reservation. Pastor Tom Jones also rejoined staff in 2016 to assist Pastor Cheatham and act as Shepherding Ministries Coordinator. Pastor Cheatham resigned in February 2020 to follow a call to a church in Florida.

Currently, Pastor Will Hesterberg is Interim Senior Pastor, Pastor Tom continues his role as the Shepherding Ministries Coordinator, Elder Ron Jones oversees Education and Community Outreach, Zach Dean leads the Youth Group, and Beth Bicklein keeps the church office running smoothly as Office Administrator.

Concord is currently guided by a session of five active elders and a board of seven active deacons.  The congregation has been blessed by many members with friendly, servant hearts.  Together, we are working to worship God in Christ Jesus and looking expectantly to see the Holy Spirit at work in the communities that we serve by “Pressing Forward for God’s Glory".

 

 

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Concord Presbyeterian Church exists to glorify God by loving, serving, equipping, and evangelizing.

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Address: 338 Covington Drive, Waterloo, Illinois 62298
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