Significant dates, events, and activities from the first 100 years of McKinley’s history:
– A committee is appointed by the Synod of Illinois to organize religious care for Presbyterian students at the University of Illinois, the state’s land-grant public university.
– T.J. Porter is appointed by the Synod as university pastor.
– James M. Duer is appointed as university pastor and organizes religious services for students, which are held in the university’s Morrow Hall, then the Agriculture Building (no longer standing).
– Martin E. Anderson is appointed as university pastor.
– The synod purchases property near the campus, at 5th and John Streets in Champaign, to be used as a site for a church building. The house on the site was used as a student center and living unit for men until construction of the church started.
– The cornerstone is laid and church construction begins because of the generosity of Senator William McKinley.
– The student-center house is moved to a location south of the new church, on 5th Street, and converted into a residence for Presbyterian women.
– Church construction is completed and dedicated to the memory of Senator McKinley’s father, the Reverend George McKinley. McKinley is the first church at a public university in the United States that was organized and built for students.
– Robert R. Reed becomes pastor of McKinley Church.
– Thomas H. Hanna succeeds Reed as pastor of McKinley Church,
– J. Walter Malone, Jr. is recruited by Senator McKinley and becomes pastor of the church.
– McKinley Church is organized as a regular church and a member of the Bloomington Presbytery instead of merely being a chapel for students.
– A campaign for funds is started to build and maintain a foundation building with a lead pledge from Senator McKinley of $200,000 and a goal of raising $400,000 in matching funds.
– The McKinley Foundation building is dedicated, with Illinois governor Louis L. Emerson giving the address and Walter Malone presiding.
– “Presby House” is established with the purchase of an adjacent fraternity house. The purchase was made possible through the generosity of Livia Ball, for whom the house was officially named.
– The Fraser Memorial Cloister (the breezeway joining the church and foundation buildings) adds a distinctive beauty to the grounds. The breezeway was constructed with a lead gift in memory of John and Mary Fraser and the collective contributions of 199 university students and 90 alumni.
– James Hine, hired from Hanover, Indiana, becomes the McKinley pastor/director.
– Worship services are held in the university auditorium while the church is being expanded and the sanctuary reconditioned.
– A new addition to the church building, with an enlarged balcony and modified entrance, is dedicated.
– A wheelchair ramp — perhaps the first on campus — is built.
– Jim Hine makes a trip around the world for the Presbyterian Board of Missions.
– The university’s public radio station, WILL-AM, regularly broadcasts Sunday morning worship services.
– The Graduate Student Supper Coop is formed and serves food to about a hundred grad students four nights a week. The coop continues well into the 1970s.
– Civil rights and racial equality advocacy takes place, including participation in freedom marches in the U.S. south, including Hattiesburg, Mississippi.
– The ecumenical United Christian Fellowship (campus Presbyterians, Disciples of Christ, and Methodists) is organized, and a UCF Chapel Center is established at Lincoln and Pennsylvania Avenues in Urbana.
– Pastor Jim Hine launches “Night Call,” a religious reflections television program on Channel 3 WCIA television.
– Demonstrations are held to protest the military draft, and students are advised on options for resisting the draft.
– Three houses are bought as a means to racially integrate community neighborhoods and supplement the rent for local disadvantaged and diverse families of limited means.
– Richard Lundy, hired from a position in Moscow, Idaho, becomes the McKinley pastor/director.
– McKinley maintains active involvement in the peace movement against the war in Vietnam, including the provision of sanctuary and a first aid station in the foundation building for students protesting the war.
– A day care facility for local low-income families was established. The facility eventually became the Marilyn Queller Child Care Center in Urbana.
– In conjunction with Urbana’s Wesley United Methodist Church and Foundation, McKinley was involved in the Baker Board ministry with women.
– A congregational blood donor campaign was initiated.
– McKinley begins to support the local “empty tomb” Christian research and service organization with the establishment of a food pantry to collect and distribute groceries to those in need.
– McKinley sponsors a Black Pentecostal church, which alternates use of the sanctuary with the congregation.
– The Bicycle Project students is initiated, where abandoned bicycles are collected, repaired, and given away to international students.
– The Metropolitan Community Church, composed of gay and lesbian people who were not comfortable or welcome in other local Christian churches, is hosted with the provision of both worship and office space.
– The Eastern Orthodox Church meets monthly in the foundation chapel, growing its congregation until it moves to its own facility in Urbana in 2001.
– The church adopts the use of inclusive language in worship and liturgical activities.
– A Laotian refugee family is sponsored, to be resettled into the community and acclimated to America.
– The Scot Free clothing exchange is begun to support refugee families, students, and community people with the acquisition of clothing at no cost.
– Steve Shoemaker returns from North Carolina to his hometown to become McKinley’s pastor/director.
– McKinley becomes a “More Light Church,” joining with a handful of other Presbyterian churches nationwide to advocate for the full inclusion of all LGBT people into the life of the local and larger church.
– The support of environmental issues begins, first with the Central States Environmental Educational Center, an anti-nuclear Clinton group, and continuing with Prairie Rivers.
– Lightning strikes and shatters the cross on the church building
– The church building is evacuated for safety reasons due to the discovery of structural instability in the beams supporting the roof.
– After repairs to the beams are completed and the cross is replaced, the congregation moves back into the church building.
– The church and foundation support the first Intercambio de Cultural Maya winter rural construction exchange. Thus begins a continuing mission ministry that expanded in 1987 to include a summer urban construction and cultural exchange for students and young adults and in 1989 to include winter health care and health education trips involving health care professionals, doctors, and dentists to Mexico’s Yucatan peninsula.
– Charlie Sweitzer is designated as co-pastor/co-director with Steve Shoemaker.
– McKinley participates in the sanctuary movement of central American refugees with membership in and support of CUECOS, the Champaign-Urbana Ecumenical Community of Sanctuary.
– The Men’s Winter Emergency Shelter is housed in the basement of the church building; involvement expanded in 1991 to include an all-day drop-in center for men; grant funding supports a community transitional center and staff and the facility is occupied until 2001, when the need outgrew the space.
– The Greater Jerusalem Pentecostal Ministry uses the foundation for church school while McKinley worships in the church and uses the sanctuary for worship while McKinley holds Christian education classes in the foundation.
– The church initiates a capital campaign.
– The sanctuary is renovated to include hardwood flooring; bathrooms on the main level; a coffee nook, bulletin boards, and closets at the rear of the sanctuary; and a full redesign of the chancel area in front.
– A new Dobson mechanical-action pipe organ is installed in the remodeled sanctuary chancel as the central and most prominent feature of the worship space.
– The church session establishes a policy for the blessing of same-sex unions.
– McKinley is a major donor and the largest contributor to the local chapter of Habitat for Humanity; Habitat’s McKinley House is dedicated in 1998.
– McKinley hosts the national conference of More Light churches in celebration and support of the full inclusion of LGBT persons into the Presbyterian(USA) denomination.
– Transition pastor/director Doug Baer is hired from Arizona.
– “Share the Care,” an innovative, cooperative means to support family and personal needs of the congregation, is established.
– The church, as one of just 16 churches in Illinois, joins the Center for Progressive Christianity national network as a statement of our theology.
– Heidi Weatherford becomes McKinley’s first female pastor/director.
– The church session sends a letter to the University of Illinois Board of Trustees asking that Chief Illiniwek be retired as a symbol of the university.
– The church is involved in the peace movement opposing a war in Iraq, including the establishment of a “light a candle for peace” segment of Sunday worship.
– The church and foundation buildings host the campus election-eve rally featuring the soon-to-be senator Barack Obama; over 4,000 students and community people participate, overflowing both buildings.
– A Korean Presbyterian church is sponsored to meet in the McKinley sanctuary and to have an office in the foundation building.
– A chapter of the ecumenical Interfaith Alliance is established through leadership of McKinley church members to promote civic involvement of people of faith and assert a progressive Christian point of view into the political realm.