1903 ChurchjpgGerman Valley UMC 1903

German Valley United Methodist Church

“The Bell Has Rung For More Than a Century”



The bell in the steeple at 7 South Main St. in German Valley has rung for more than 110 years to announce the start of another worship service.  The German Valley United Methodist Church originated in a rather unique way.  Usually a small group of people arranges a meeting place, invites a minister or speaker, and services are begun, largely of an evangelistic nature.


The history of the German Valley UMC dates back to the spring of 1900 when Mr. Thorne, who was employed in the old German Valley Creamery, and was not familiar with the German language, felt the need to hear preaching services in the English language.  All other churches in the community held German services.  Mr. Thorne invited the Methodist minister, of Adeline, Illinois, to come to German Valley and preach on Sunday afternoons.  The people of the community were invited.  Every Sunday services were held in Wieman’s Hall above the store with Mrs. Poppen serving as first organist.


In the winter of 1901, this group of 25 people moved the services to the creamery, taking the organ with them.  It was not long before these people yearned for a church home of their own.  So in 1903, the lot was purchased from B. Hayunga and quoting from the Freeport Daily Journal, August 12, 1903, “The Methodist Episcopal Church of German Valley has purchased a very desirable lot on Main Street, and work on its new building will begin soon.  They no doubt will put up a fine edifice.”  The Rev. A. Jokisch was pastor when the cornerstone was laid in 1903.  Sam Plum built the church for about $3000.  It was Rev. Jokisch who helped with the soliciting, and with the chain letter, went through the country with a horse and buggy.  Also quoted from the Freeport Daily Journal, “The new Methodist Episcopal Church at German Valley was dedicated free of debt on May 2, 1904.  It is a building of which German Valley has reason to be proud.”


Until 1905 the German Valley and Adeline Churches were on the same circuit.  It was then that German Valley became a single charge with a full time minister.  In June of 1962, the German Valley Methodist Church joined with the Methodist churches of Pecatonica, Winnebago, and Burritt, to form the United Methodist Larger Parish, the first of its kind in Illinois.  In 1976 the German Valley UMC was withdrawn from the Larger Parish and joined with the Leaf River UMC.  In 2000 German Valley, Leaf River, and Forreston United Methodist Churches were joined together in a cooperative parish.  In November of 2001, our church voted to split from the cooperative ministry and go as a single charge with a part time pastor.  One was appointed by the conference.  In April of 2005, the conference brought Pastor Rick Neblock to German Valley UMC.  In July of 2005 he also took on Winnebago UMC.  We now share a pastor. On June 26, 2011 Pastor Rick Neblock retired..


Pastor David Decker became the new pastor at German Valley United Methodist Church on July 1, 2011 and was pastor through September of 2013. while Pastor David was here a projection system and automatic screen was installed in January of 2012 in our sanctuary and is now used weekly during worship.  Pastor Keith Kelsey-Powell a retired pastor became our interim pasor from Septmber 0f 2013 through June of 2014.  Pastor Matthew James Smith became our new pastor on July 1, 2014. 


One of German Valley UMC's very own, Donald Plock, was appointed pastor on July 1, 2016 and has been serving and leading this congregation since that point. Donald was baptized as an infant, was raised in the church, and confirmed as a full professing member. He has been involved with the leadership of the church as the administrative assistant for 12 years prior to being pastor. Visitation and shepherding are high on Pastor Don’s priorities.


Even now, after all those years, the bell in the steeple rings to announce the beginning of another worship service.  It rings every Sunday as it has for more than 116 years.

DSCN0161German Valley UMC 2014

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