Many of the world’s religions have beliefs rooted hundreds or thousands of years ago, long before Illinois became part of the “America” we know today. But Illinois has a rich history of religion and places to worship either formally or informally.
While you’re driving hither and yon for the holidays, consider a stop at one of these sites:
Baha’i House of Worship for North America
The nine-sided structure symbolizes unity and prayer to God; it is one of only seven Baha’i temples in the world. Baha’i truths include oneness with God, oneness of humanity and oneness of religion. The main building is surrounded by gardens and fountains.
Address: 100 Linden Ave., Wilmette; 847-853-2300
Hours: Auditorium and gardens: 6 a.m.-10 p.m. year-round; welcome center: 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Sept. 16-May 14; 10 a.m.-8 p.m. May 15; Sept. 15
Bald Knob Cross of Peace
The Bald Knob Cross of Peace, in the foothills of Union County, is 111 feet tall; its arms extend 63 feet horizontally. Each of the four sides has a word inscribed into granite: Peace, Hope, Faith, Charity. Its roots extend to 1937, when a man and pastor were talking about a good site for an Easter sunrise service.
Address: 3630 Bald Knob Road, Alto Pass; 618-893-2344
Hours: Dawn-dusk; office hours, Friday-Sunday
Bishop Hill, now a state and federal historic site, was founded in 1846 by Swedes (Janssonists) seeking religious freedom. Fall events include Agriculture Days (Sept. 28-29), Christmas Market (Nov. 29-Dec. 1, Dec. 7-8), Christmas Home Tour (Dec. 8), and Lucia Nights Festival of Lights (Dec. 13-14).
Address: Bishop Hill is in Henry County, a few miles north of U.S. 34/Illinois 17, northwest of Galva; 309-927-3899
Hours: Vary by location.
Admission: Varies by location.
Cross at the Crossroads
The Cross at the Crossroads, south of Effingham, is 19 stories tall; its arms extend 113 feet. Features include Easter sunrise and memorial service; December display of 100 Nativity sets.
Address: Pike Avenue, Effingham
Hours: Welcome Center, 10 a.m.-4 p.m. daily Nov.-April; 10 a.m.-7 p.m. May-Oct.
Moody Bible Institute
The institute, originally the Chicago Evangelization Society, was formed after evangelist D.L. Moody met Emma Dryer, principal and teacher at Illinois State Normal University. Dryer eventually developed a program of Bible study, teaching and home visitation for young women, the institute’s website says, and she encouraged Moody to start a training school.
Address: 820 N. LaSalle Blvd., Chicago; 800-356-6639
Nauvoo and its more than 40 historic sites mainly are known for their ties to Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (founder Joseph Smith and leader Brigham Young).
Address: Nauvoo is in Hancock County, near Fort Madison, Iowa; 217-453-2237, Ext. 100
Hours: Visitors center, 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Mon.-Sat., after Labor Day
Admission: Varies by site
Peter Cartwright United Methodist Church
Former home and church of Cartwright (1785-1872), a Methodist revivalist credited with bringing more than 10,000 to faith; also museum, pulpit, cemetery, more. Cartright spent 50 years as district superintendent and helped found Illinois Annual Conference, McKendree College (Lebanon), MacMurray College (Jacksonville), and Illinois Wesleyan University (Bloomington).
Address: Illinois 125, Pleasant Plains (16 miles west of Springfield)
Hours: Regular worship service; hours vary for related sites.
Admission: Free; donations welcome