Quincy's megachurch grew even larger this year when The Crossing took over the former Federated Church of Lima, which sits about 20 miles north of the city on Ill. 96.
The addition of the Lima site gives The Crossing seven regional campuses and represented the top local story connected with religion in 2012. The two church bodies had been working together in recent years to come up with a more effective outreach plan.
"The Federated Church of Lima (eventually) approached us about the possibility of dissolving and us taking over their church," said Walt Wilcoxson, who is serving as the Lima campus pastor for The Crossing. "The people in Lima wanted an active, vibrant church. They have been very courageous to take such a step to keep a church in the community. It has been phenomenal to work with them."
The Rev. Jerry Harris, the senior pastor of The Crossing's main campus at 48th and Maine in Quincy, said the existing Lima facility, which is only seven years old, is in the process of being remodeled to give it the same kind of feel all of The Crossing campuses have. The church building in Lima was rebuilt following a tornado in 2003.
The Crossing also has campuses in Macomb, Pittsfield, a second Quincy campus at 929 Monroe, and Missouri sites in Hannibal and Kirksville. The Crossing's weekend services now attract a combined 5,300. The 48th and Maine site is the largest of the sites, with between 2,400 and 2,500 attending.
Other memorable events from the past 12 months included:
º Three local priests being honored for more than 45 years of service to the Catholic faith. Monsignor Mike Kuse, 71, and the Rev. Don Knuffman, 73, and the Rev. Ken Venvertloh, 73, both senior priests, were honored in July during a celebration inside Father McGivney Hall on the Knights of Columbus campus on South 36th. Venvertloh passed away two months following the event.
All three priests were born and raised in West-Central Illinois -- Kuse in Quincy, Knuffman in the Liberty area, and Venvertloh in the Ursa area.
º The Catholic community continuing to follow the progression of Father Augustus Tolton's "Cause for Sainthood," which included a July panel open to the public at Blessed Sacrament Church. Tolton, who was born a slave and became the first American diocesan priest of African descent, is being considered for canonization. Tolton had strong ties to Quincy and is buried in St. Peter Cemetery on Broadway.
º Madison Park Christian Church announcing plans in July to open a satellite campus at a second Quincy site yet to be determined. The church's continued growth in recent years triggered a blueprint for expansion. "God has blessed Madison Park with lots of new people, (and) it became apparent we were running out of space and would need some kind of solution," said the Rev. Chuck Sackett, pastor of Madison Park. The church has seen its regular Sunday attendance grow to an average of about 1,200 spread over two services at its 4700 Broadway site, where parking is limited.
º Union United Methodist Church, 1101 State, refurbishing and installing three stained-glass windows, each more than 100 years old. The windows were originally part of the church's former building at Eighth and Kentucky and had been in storage in a crawlspace on the lower level at the State Street site for more than 40 years.