- Early 1870s: Small group of Methodists began holding worship services in the Rockbridge School House
- 1887: An abandoned Methodist Episcopal Church known as Akers Chapel which stood halfway between Rockbridge and Carrollton was given to Rockbridge by the Illinois Conference. The building was wrecked and the material hauled to the present location by the members and work began on the new building. This building served as the church home from 1887 to 1926. (a window from the 1887 building hangs in the sanctuary today)
- 1925: Late in 1925, a group of dedicated members met to discuss the possibility of a new building. The building committee (P.C. Holnback, Reid Tendick, D.G. Scandrett, Mrs. Laura Tunnell, T.M. Meek, Roy Farrelly, H.S. Tendick, and S. H. Frazier) along with the local contractor, C.H. Crane, planned the new building to be built on the same site.
- 1926: The last service in the old building was held on May 30, 1926. The following day, demolition of the old building began.
- 1927: The new church (present church) was dedicated–debt free– on May 22, 1927. Bishop Edwin Holt Hughes of the Illinois Area preached the dedication service. [see post below which includes excerpts from the Illinois Conference Journals about Rockbridge Church and this building process!]
From Illinois Conference Journals
From the 1925 Illinois Conference Journal
From the 1926 Illinois Conference Journal
From the 1927 Illinois Conference Journal
Joshua Soule Akers
An interesting discovery in the long list of pastors who have served the Rockbridge Methodist Church is the pastor who was appointed in 1903.
His name was Joshua Soule Akers. He was the son of Peter Akers, the first President of McKendree College (now McKendree University). He was named after another early Methodist Bishop: Joshua Soule.
He is buried in the Diamond Grove Cemetery in Jacksonville, Illinois.
The Old Jacksonville District
Until the merger of the old Central Illinois Conference and the old Southern Illinois Conference in the mid 1990s, the Rockbridge Church was a part of the old Jacksonville District. A fun fact about this is that the Rockbridge Church was the southernmost church in the Central Illinois Conference (Medora Church was located in the Southern Illinois Conference.)
In the 1924 Conference Journal, the report from the Jacksonville District Superintendent listed the historical significance of the district. He identified three personalities associated with this area: Peter Cartwright, Peter Akers, and Abraham Lincoln. Here’s the page from the journal:
Stained Glass WIndows
One of the hallmarks of the Rockbridge United Methodist Church is the beautiful stained glass windows throughout the upper level. Some of these windows were in the original building; others were added when the present building was constructed.
All of the windows are amazing, but there is at least one that embodies some Methodist history. From 1889 to 1939, the youth organization of the Methodist Episcopal Church was known as the Epworth League. Epworth is a town in England where John and Charles Wesley were born. A window in the church harkens back to the Epworth League.
In includes the symbol of the Epworth League: the Maltese Cross. On the cross is the motto: Look Up. Lift Up. At the bottom of the window is a portion of the Benediction used by the Epworth League (and the Methodist Youth Fellowship–MYF): “The Lord Bless Thee and Keep Thee” (from Numbers 6:24-26).