Our Church History...
Methodism had an early start in Danville . “In the Old Settler’s meeting held in this small village on the 6th inst. Squire Perkins spoke of coming to Danville in 1829 and attending Samuel Whitman’s M. E. class meetings held from house to house.” The first appointment in Danville from incomplete records was made in 1829.
The first deed for a Methodist Church in Danville was made for a lot on the southeast corner of North and Vermilion streets, February 22, 1836. In 1837, the first building was erected at a cost of $800.00. In 1857, a second church was built at a cost of $13,500.00 and known as the North Street Church. This church was called the finest house of worship in Eastern Illinois.
In 1869, a division of the North Street Church was effected, and a new society with twenty members was formed. A large, frame building was erected as house of worship on the southwest corner of Gilbert and Seminary streets and was dedicated November 18, 1869. This new church was named in honor of Reverend I. C. Kimber. Later a new brick church was built on the northeast corner of Franklin and Seminary streets at a cost of $25,000.00. The Kimber Church was dedicated June 15, 1883.
On August 23, 1886, the trustees of the North Street Church purchased the lot on the southeast corner of Vermilion and Williams streets for $4,189.00. On July 16, 1887, the old North Street Church lot and building were sold at public auction for $16,527.00; this sum, added to contributions, gave the trustees sufficient funds for the erection of the new church. On October 18, 1887, the cornerstone was laid for the new 40,000.00 church. This First Methodist Episcopal Church was dedicated September 2, 1888, by Bishop Newman.
In 1919, the congregations of the First Methodist Episcopal Church and the Kimber Methodist Episcopal Church united to form the Saint James Methodist Church. This union was the uniting of congregations that sprang from the first Methodist organization. Dr. Harry W. McPherson became the pastor of this new congregation. As the membership increased, a larger building was needed, and after numerous meetings of the Saint James Official Board, the present site was selected and the lot purchased for $50,000.00. Dr. McPherson then started a campaign for funds. In 1923, Dr. T. N. Ewing was appointed pastor to Saint James, and the campaign was continued under his leadership. When enough pledges were secured to warrant the construction of a new building, the following building committee was named: William M. Acton, Chairman; George F. Rearick, Secretary and Treasurer; Frank L. Hill, Henry Bireline, Otto Schultz, Mrs. J. G. Cannon, Jr., Mrs. I. A. Love, and T. O. Westman. Harvey Skadden was employed as the architect. On August 22, 1926, the cornerstone was laid for the present Saint James United Methodist Church. The first service was held in the Community Room May 22, 1927. The first formal opening and dedication services were held during the week of October 9. The cost of the building was $352,745.00.