Shiloh United Methodist Church is a contemporary expression of God’s faithfulness built upon a proud past. It all began with a revival meeting in 1807 at Three Springs – a spot that later became the Village of Shiloh in the Illinois territory. That revival gave birth to what is now Shiloh United Methodist Church – the oldest Methodist Church in Illinois, at the same location. The original log church stood on this site. In 1875, after a couple of small buildings, a church with a steeple was erected on the site. It can be seen from miles around, and the brick church stands proudly today. Groundbreaking for a new addition to the existing building took place in 2000. This expansion provided a large worship center and educational wing with room for future growth.
Architectural symbolisms included in the new building serve as reminders of God’s presence, the salvation offered by the resurrection of Jesus Christ, and the purpose of the Church. A larger-than-life wall relief mural entitled “Legacy of Changed Lives” depicts God’s people coming to His Kingdom. It covers the south exterior wall and can be seen from Shiloh’s Main Street. Inside, natural light floods into the gathering space and the entrance to the worship center through oversized windows and skylights. Mounted high on the outside wall is a Methodist cross and flame. It can be seen through a skylight directly above the main entrance to the worship center as a symbolic reminder of one’s passing by “the foot of the cross” as we enter for worship.
In the worship center, a smaller version of the same cross is placed on the south wall next to three colored glass windows. The windows represent the colors God commanded the Israelites to use in the tabernacle. Sapphire, or blue, is representative of heaven, purple represents royalty, kingship, and elegance, and scarlet symbolizes the blood of Christ, shed as a sacrifice. Seven small windows on the north wall display a rainbow from warm yellows, ambers, oranges, and reds to cool greens, blues, and purples. They represent our lives and time on earth.
When William McKendree, the first American-born Methodist bishop and founder of McKendree University in Lebanon, Illinois, offered his prophetic blessing at the founding of this church in 1807, he had faith that “this church would live long and accomplish great good.” As it was in the early days when the pioneers came here to draw nearer to God, more than two centuries later, Shiloh United Methodist Church remains a Christ-centered church with a promising future.