Book release party in Geneva to celebrate town's oldest church

Unitarian Universalist Society hits 175th anniversary

By RENEE TOMELL - rtomell@shawmedia.com Published: Wednesday, Sept. 13, 2017 12:45 p.m. CDT • Updated: Wednesday, Sept. 13, 2017 9:31 p.m. CDT
As the oldest church in town, the Unitarian Universalist Society of Geneva will celebrate the release of a history book at a party open to the community at 7 p.m. Sept. 17, featuring a book signing, refreshments and cake. [To see a photo of the book cover, swipe left.] — Sandy Bressner file photo - sbressner@shawmedia.com

GENEVA – In honor of its 175th anniversary, a church whose history and personalities are interwoven with Geneva’s roots will throw a community party to celebrate the release of a book about its past. A book signing and refreshments capped by cake will begin at 7 p.m. Sept. 17, presented by the Unitarian Universalist Society of Geneva.

“Lighting the Chalice” opens with an overview of Geneva’s first church and the rich history of its founders, struggles and growth. It is edited by society member Don Brod of St. Charles, who worked with manuscripts from 11 contributing writers.

Brod said the opening chapter is a detailed, scholarly overview written by Patricia Ward of St. Charles, who leads the church’s Heritage Team, and whose members help tell the story that began in 1842, with the society’s formation.

“Pat does a good job of linking the early beginning of the town with the church,” Brod said, noting Geneva was founded in 1835, only a few years before the society.

The book also focuses on the last quarter century, delving into Unitarian Universalist Society of Geneva ministries and how they evolved into the 21st century, as well as the challenges of maintaining a sanctuary built by the first minister in the early 1840s at the corner of James and South Second streets.

Tom Lichtenheld of Geneva, noted illustrator of children’s books, designed the front and back cover, featuring photography by Patrick McGleam of St. Charles and Jim Frazier of Elgin, according to Brod. The chalice pictured was crafted by artist Jim Jenkins of Geneva.

Available through amazon.com or at the event, the book costs $10. The party offers the opportunity to meet the authors and take home autographed copies. People planning to attend are encouraged to register at uusg.org/book-release.

Unitarian Universalism is a diverse, welcoming faith, committed to spiritual growth and social justice. The chalice is the symbol of the faith and is lit for each service.