On January 28, 1844, 9 men and 13 women brought their Letters of Membership together creating a congregation rooted in the Presbyterian Church. Another 13 people were added throughout the year. The first services were held on the third floor of Merchant Row on Bluff St, with Rev. B. W. Dwight serving as pastor . Later services were held in a room of the new court house. In 1847 services were moved to the wooden Universalist Church at Chicago and Clinton streets.
1848-1851 Royal Reed
1851-1866 L. H. Loss In 1852 the Ottawa Street Building was erected.
1857-1866 John Kidd, a graduate of Edinburgh Scotland Seminary. CPC building erected at corner of Ottawa and Van Buren Streets.
1866-1868 J. B. Hubbard Central Church is the mother of the Presbyterian Churches in Joliet. Until 1868 it was known as the Congregational Church, changing the name to Central Presbyterian Church of Joliet and becoming a member of the Chicago Presbytery.
1868- 1873 H. D. Jenkins In 1871 the church building was enlarged.
1873-1883 Amos H. Dean
1882-1899 James Lewis His son, Alexander, later became pastor of Willow Avenue Presbyterian Church. Central Church was completed to accommodate the rapidly growing congregation and provide sufficient space to carry on its programs. It was built with Joliet limestone in the Victorian gothic style. The land and stone were donated by Henry Jacobs. The bell tower was purchased in the late 1850’s at a cost of $500. It rang for fires as well as church services. The designs of the windows are the workmanship of Charles W. Arbrand. In the north window, St. Cecelia, the other two are “Christ Knocking at the Door” and “The Good Shepherd”. The organ built in Moline, has 1737 pipes.
1899-1905 Duncan Milner
1905-1910 Rev Robert Yost
1910-1915 C. Dutton Jacobs
1916-1937 E. E. Hasting, the longest serving minister in Central’s history. His ministry was temporarily interrupted during World War I, when he became Chaplain at Great Lakes Training Center. He later worked at the state penitentiary.
1937-1946 E. J. LeCompte1946-1958 Rev. James G. Franz The names of the people who helped organize the early church are familiar and prominent in the community; names such as Woodruff, Marsh, House, Barrett and Barber. The church was a great influence on the early growth of the city not only spiritually but socially.
In the fifties, familiar names were officers of the church: Edmund Elias; Ray Lichtenwalter, Pres. Of the Board of Trustees; George Geissler, Sunday School Supt.; Elmer Geissler, Pres. Couples Club; Bruce Houseknecht, Senior Choir Director; Mrs. Peter Sharp, Children’s Choir. Sunday morning would find Joan and Elmer Geissler sitting with the young people of the Tuxis Society.
1958-1963 John F. Merrill
1960-1962 Donn Wright, co-Pastor as Central and Second Presbyterian Churches united.
1963-1970 John McIntosh
1971-1983 Lawrence J. Sunkel served the church and the community as well with his Sunday morning sermons on local radio station WJOL.
1984-1999 Rev Richard Johnson In 1989 the church building was sold to Mr. & Mrs. Pritz. The last service at Richards & First was October 15, 1989.
2017 We happily welcomed Dr. John (Jack) Berghorst, Commissioned Ruling Elder as we continue our legacy and mission.