Church History


Our church’s history begins in 1868 with the building of our first church.

In 1912 on June 30, a new larger church was built and dedicated.

In 1999 our present church was completed.

Feb 16, 1868:

The First Presbyterian Church of Harvard was organized and held services in Empire Hall.

Mar 14, 1868:

The Sunday School was organized.

Nov 1, 1868:

$500.00 was pledged toward building a church. The total cost of lot, building and furniture was $3,714.13.


Because of financial difficulties, the Presbyterian and Congregational churches united.


Rev. J. L. Tait was the first minister to wear a robe while he preached. Mrs. Tait’s Sunday School class later grew into E.O.W.


A new larger church was built and dedicated debt free on June 30. J.U. was formed this year.

May 3,1917:

The congregation authorized the borrowing of $3,200.00 to buy the house and lot just north of the church.


Rev. Robert Wirth Frank served as pastor, coming from Marengo Church.


Rev. William Hodgson was the first pastor to completely fill the auditorium on Sunday mornings. In his first year, 106 new members were added.


Rev. Wilford Hall Taylor came to Harvard. He and his wife were the first occupants of the newly built manse. He founded a Junior Church and branch Sunday Schools on the south side of town and Lawrence. He spoke to a group of farm families about his trip to Europe and this group grew into the interdenominational Farmers Fellowship. Youngsters from their families became part of youth group meetings – about 65 each Sunday night.


Rev. William J. DuBourdieu came. He and his wife did much to revitalize Farmers Fellowship. He did much to increase interest in missionary work.


Dr. James Congdon was stated supply minister. He always spoke without notes.


Dr. Papperman, his wife and 3 daughters, came from Chicago. Mrs. Papperman organized T.E.L. Club and started U.P.W. Remodeling was done in the church basement. Meet and Eat (a group of young married couples) was formed.


Rev. Donald Riker came. He was well liked and filled the auditorium each Sunday. People were very disappointed when he decided to leave the ministry.


While Rev. David Pfleiderer was here, a new Christian Education addition was made to the building consisting of three classrooms, rest rooms, a hall upstairs, and a large multi-purpose room in the basement. The sanctuary, chapel, and parlor were also remodeled.


An addition was made to the manse for Rev. Harold Demus and his family. The “Cellar” was started (a Presbyterian sponsored program for all Harvard youth that met on Saturday nights). This grew into the “Coffee House” in 1973. This same year Kurt Pasko became Youth & Christian Education Director. November 1975 the Men’s Prayer Breakfast group was started. The purchase of the St. Paul’s Lutheran Church property was made in January 1980.


The Harvard Historical Society began renting the former St. Paul’s Lutheran Church property.


The church office was remodeled as a memorial to Estelle Olson who was church secretary for many years, as well as being choir director. Joint Lenten services with other Harvard churches began.


Rev. Demus left to go to a church in Ohio. Rev. James Breckenridge became moderator until Rev. Richard Harmison became interim pastor in May.


In September, Rev. Jeff Borgerson, his wife Joyce, and their two sons, Jacob and Joel, came from a church in Hoopeston, Illinois to become our new Pastor.

The St. Paul’s property was sold to the Harvard Historical Society.

In October the Church hired a new secretary, Janet Carollo.


On Palm Sunday children and adults, led by Rev. Dr. Jeff and a donkey, participated in a procession that has become an annual event. A group went to

Kemmerer Orphanage at Assumption, Illinois, for a week to do whatever work was needed. This was done each summer for several years.


Elaine Olmstead became our student pastor.


Much repair work was done on the church throughout the year. The beginning of “our dream” took form when Session appointed a Future Facility Committee to investigate options and needs; they recommended a new church.

Jan 31, 1993:

A land acquisition committee was appointed to look for a suitable sight for a new church.

January 1994:

Two parishioners were part of a Blackhawk mission trip to Kenya. They came back with a strong desire to help an orphanage – the Githiga Children’s Home. Over the next five years, we gave two cows, many blankets, and partnered with the Waltham Church to dig the well deeper and supply a pump and electricity. Support of the home is continued annually.


Ten acres were purchased on Harvard Hills Road. The architectural firm, Williams and Elliott Associates, were employed to design our building.

March 1998:

Rev. Borgerson spent two weeks visiting holy sites and taking classes as part of a study visit to Israel.

May 30, 1998:

Groundbreaking was held for our new church. Construction quickly followed.


Representatives were part of a group to travel to Kenya to finalize a partnership between Blackhawk Presbytery and Imenti Presbytery in Kenya.

June 6, 1999:

The first worship service was held in the sanctuary of our new church and the new building dedicated. The dream was realized!! The old building was sold to the New Life Pentecostal Church.


Many additions were made to our new church in the way of built-in improvements and furnishings, completely finishing and equipping the new kitchen, fellowship hall, and the parlor. Playground and sports equipment was added and parking lot improved. This continues to be an on-going project.


Seven represented FPC-Harvard on another working mission trip to Kenya, visiting and working at Githiga Children’s Home.

May 2002:

Our church family hosted 3 friends from Imenti Presbytery in Kenya for several days. A potluck supper and program were hosted with each of the visitors giving a presentation of their work with the church and Githiga Children’s Home in Kenya.


First Presbyterian hosted their first Christian Rock Concert at the church. A memorial garden was planted outside the parlor windows.

June 6, 2004:

By the grace and power of God, we burned the mortgage on the fifth anniversary of our first Worship Service in our new church.

August 2004:

The first Folkfest took place on the church grounds with individuals and groups entertaining.


Donated shoes, hats and mittens were boxed and mailed to Afghanistan. “Presbyterians In Action” (PIA) summer project was to fix a parishioner’s garage. The Brat Stand during Harvard’s Milk Days continued and Folkfest returned. A Coffee House in Fellowship Hall was initiated for young adults. A Memorial Rose Garden was established on the south side of the church.


Rev. Jeff and others fashioned a Prayer Labyrinth on part of the back 5 acres which is an on-going project. The Brat Stand during Milk Days and Folkfest were repeated. “Presbyterians In Action” (PIA) again worked outside a dedicated parishioner’s residence. A clavinova was purchased for use during worship.

2007: A projection system was installed in the sanctuary to integrate visual power-point presentations during worship. PIA worked outside on a parishioner’s home. Foundation provided lighted brick columns at our entrance way.

PIA worked outside on a parishioner’s home.

Foundation provided lighted brick columns at our entrance way.

The gazebo donated by Harry and Sonya Stafford was dedicated to the memory of their son, Jeff.


The Harvard Milk Days Brat Stand tradition continues each year with the dedication of several members.

Session approved a new group to be called the Mission Quilters. They continue to meet weekly on Tuesday morning sewing quilts for donations to various nonprofit organizations and to provide warmth to those less fortunate.


FPC-Harvard hosted a southern gospel concert by “Forgiven” quartet from Oklahoma.

Upon completion of her studies, Session approved to accept Church Member, Claire Brennecka, as a Parish Associate Pastor for our church.


“Forgiven” quartet returned for another concert the end of May. A website was established for our church. PIA project included replacing a small deck, cleaning windows, and some yard work for a faithful member.The church began an affiliation with Lon Haldeman to raise monies to build schools in Peru.Our Deacons held the first Annual Pig Roast in August to benefit the needy families of Harvard.


CHIMES became available on our website. Weekly communication by Rev. Jeff started via a email blast to many members. Our Deacons hosted as Poker Run fundraiser in July. Two Town Hall meetings were held regarding our Stewardship Program.


Vacation Bible School was changed from a week of ½ day hours to full days with the guidance of the staff from Stronghold. Rev. Jeff and three church members joined with other members of the Presbytery to journey to Kenya and while there visited Githiga Children's Home.

A Saturday Night ‘coffee house’ style meeting began. Rev. Jeff held a Pulpit exchange with members of his prayer partners. Presbyterian Women held the Annual Presbyterian Women’s Fall Gathering at our church. The first Community Christmas Sing a long was held.

An amendment to our By-laws regarding our Church Life Committee’s name being changed to Church Membership and updating it’s duties.


Session worked with the Worship Committee to change the format of our Sunday Worship Services. Our 9 am Service now includes a Praise Band. We began to hold Fellowship Time between Sunday Worship Services with many good responses from our congregation.


The Deacons held a Pancake Dinner for Fat Tuesday. A Memorial Dedication Worship was held. We obtained our Permanent Food License for the Kitchen.

PW held the Luncheon here for the Presbyterian Fall Meeting. Fundraising began for our new Piano. A New Pictorial Directory began. Our new Baby Grand was purchased


We distributed our completed New Pictorial Directory. Our music became available on our overhead screen. Our Parking Lot was resurfaced and lined, and a purchase of a storage shed was placed near our service drive.

Rev. Borgerson announced his upcoming retirement. Claire Brennecka was asked to take on the role of Pastor while we search for an Interim.


Our Sound System in the Sanctuary was updated. The Mission Committee PIAs worked on one of our member’s driveway and did a dinner for the Veterans at the Veteran’s Home.

Rev. Jeff met with Presbytery on his exit interview. His retirement was approved in February by the Congregation with his last day being May 14th. We have been blessed to have him for our Pastor for 27 years and 8 months.

Claire Brennecka was commissioned to serve communion while in search of our Interim Pastor. She agreed to fill in as our Pastor following Jeff’s retirement until an Interim is hired.

One of our Elders, Mike Engle, was approved by Session to begin the process to become a Commissioned Ruling Elder.

Appointment of a Committee to search for our Interim Pastor was formed.

Repairs were done to our Fellowship Hall Furnace. Our Worship Committee held a Dinner/Concert in April. Forgiven Quartet once again performed in May after thoughts of retirement. Members of our church volunteered to work the Harvard Balloon Fest. Rev. Robert Kopp, of the Belvidere Presbyterian Church, was assigned to serve as our temporary Moderator of Session.

Our Interim Search Committee introduced a possible Interim Pastor Candidate to Session for approval to begin January 1, 2018.


January 1st our new Interim, Pastor Tom Allen began. Pastor Claire continues to handle all sacraments, visits, funerals, baptisms or weddings that arise. She is truly a blessing to our congregation.

Sunday, February 18th, we turned 150 years old. We held a special dedication on this date with a special Worship Service in honor of our anniversary and we also did a dedication of memorials from our faithful members we lost in 2017. There was a church wide potluck that followed the service that was well attended. A more publicized event will take place in June.

A special committee was formed to put into place a Wedding Policy Manuel.

At an Executive Session Meeting held March 25th, the Session had to make a very difficult decision. Because of a shortage of funds, it was with deep regret that they had to invoke the 30 – day termination clause in Pastor Tom’s contract. Pastor Tom’s final day was Sunday, April 22nd. The Session expresses their deepest appreciation to Pastor Tom for his dedicated service to us.

Beginning May, Pastor Claire, once again took over ALL the duties of the Pastor, as she has been hired for this position.

On Sunday, May 27th we welcomed back “Forgiven Quartet”. The concert was attended by over 100 people. This will be their last concert here due to they are retiring. We will have a hard time replacing them !

The week of June 11th we held Vacation Bible School with over 80 children attending !! What a great job the Coffers did in running VBS.

We held a special Worship Service on Sunday, June 24th honoring our 150th Anniversary of our church with a worship from the past. It was followed by an Open House to the public with a light luncheon served. It was VERY well attended.

The Foundation has purchased Televisions to hang in the Sanctuary to assist with our Worship Service. Our old screen and projector has reached its life span.

The Trustees installed security cameras to go along with our new security system.

We held a Joint Thanksgiving Eve Worship with the Methodists here at our church on Wednesday, November 21st.

For the second year at Christmas Time we had a ‘Hanging of the Greens’ Worship that was well received. We are going to keep this up as a tradition every year !


The Annual Congregational Meeting including a report from our MAP Committee that was approved.

Joint Ash Wednesday Worship was held at the Methodist Church this year.

In March, a very faithful member of the church, Robert Hansen, donated the cost and labor of installing 5 new furnaces to the church. Such a very generous donation and so needed !

Also in March, the Foundation purchased a new color copier for the church office and the Trustees purchased a collator to replace our old one.

The Mission Quilters changed their meeting day to Wednesdays beginning in April.

June 16th we celebrated our Fifty Year Members at Worship and Fellowship. We currently have 38 Fifty Years or more dedicated members of our church.

Beginning in Mid June, we invited the ‘Senior without Walls’ to hold their weekly BINGO here on Wednesdays.

Our Yearly VACATION BIBLE SCHOOL was held the week of June 24th with the African theme ‘Roar’. Once again the Coffers did a wonderful job !!

On July 21st at our 10 am Worship we honored one of our members, Mike Engle. Mike studied to become a Pastor. He graduated as a Certified Ruling Elder also known as a Certified Lay Pastor. He is now ready to be called to a church.

On July 28th we welcomed Rev. Dr. Dennis Haines to give the Sermon. Dennis grew up in Harvard and was a member of our church. He went on to become a Presbyterian Pastor.

In July our new roof was installed. Again, a very generous gift from our member Bob Hansen. To have such a wonderful member as Bob is truly a blessing.

On August 6 at both 11 am and 6:30 pm Dr Bob Kopp, from the Belvidere Presbyterian Church, hosted two question/answer times for the purpose of answering any questions that the congregation may have with the Session’s decision to make a covenant with Pastor Claire Brennecka to become our permanent pastor.

August 9th we welcomed Paul’s Journey to the church to give a free concert open to the community. This band included a member that used to sing with Forgiven before they retired last year. Paul’s Journey is also retiring so we will need to look into a new group for next year if we decide to continue with this community event.

On Sunday, August 25th, our Session called a Congregational Meeting. The motion was made to dissolve the position of looking for an Installed Pastor and it was seconded and opened for debate. Motion was passed as all in favor and moved.

On September 8th, our Deacons hosted their first annual Tailgate Party following Worship. Favorite sport team jerseys were worn during the viewing of a football game with a 50/50 raffle, games for the children, and plenty of food for all !

At 2 pm on Sunday, October 27th the Ladies of the church held a ‘Women of the Bible Fashion Show’. It was well attended by ladies from local churches also. Refreshments were served following the show.

On November 5th our Foundation replaced our old wooden sign in the front of the property.

On Sunday, November 10 our Deacons held their first ‘cookie walk’ which was open to the public.


Leaving January 7th for Kenya, Africa was Pastor Brennecka and one of our church members, Carla Sipe, along with others from Blackhawk Presbytery.

March brought the deadly Coronavirus. Along with other area churches, all events, gatherings, meetings, and Worship Services were canceled. The governor ordered a ‘stay at home’ for everyone.

April brought on line services and a congregation emailing of daily devotions and prayers as we continued to wait out the ‘stay at home’ order.

May came and we continued to do on line services and emails while waiting for the ‘stay at home’ order to begin phase 2 or returning to our new normal life. Meetings are being held per zoom for our Trustees and Session. Deacons are keeping up with their work through messaging.

As June approaches, we have begun preparing for returning to services and meetings hopefully soon. We have canceled the yearly mission trip. Also have temporarily postponed the annual garage sale to possibly sometime later in the year.

We returned to live Worship on June 27th and June 28th with Covid guidelines in effect. We are still hoping to return to our full event schedule come the fall.

On line pledging became public in July after weeks of testing. The Worship Committee is currently emailing out the Worship Service on Sunday afternoons as they continue to work on getting our Worship on line live.

September brought our website going down. Korey volunteered to rebuild our site with G Suite to make sharing documents easier. Thank you Korey ! Mission Quilters return to Wednesday mornings at the church.

Sunday School returned live in October. Also in October, our Mission Committee provided lunch for Habitat for Humanity as they were working on a house in town. Church World Service Buckets went out. Money was given to provide 100 meals for Thanksgiving.

Novembers Thanksgiving Potluck canceled due to Covid.

In December we held a congregational meeting to announce nominations for new officers.

We also went live on our facebook page for the first time. Christmas Eve in person worship services canceled due to possibility of having to large a crowd with us being the only church in Harvard open. We had a small drive in candle lighting in our parking lot at 5 pm on Christmas Eve with a short scripture reading that lasted about 15 minutes for those who braved the cold.