University of Wisconsin Digital Collections
Link to University of Wisconsin Digital Collections
Link to University of Wisconsin Digital Collections
The State of Wisconsin Collection

Page View

Cartwright, Carol Lohry; Shaffer, Scott; Waller, Randal / City on the Rock River : chapters in Janesville's history
(1998)

12. Religion,   pp. 208-226


Page 223

The Unitarian Church began in Janesville in 1864, when a meeting was held for the
organization of "The First Independent Society of Liberal Christians of Janesville." Shortly
thereafter, the group changed its name to All Soul's Church. The congregation first met in the
Baptist Hope Chapel in Janesville's downtown, but by 1866, the congregation had constructed a
new All Soul's Church at 121 E. Court St. (extant, but completely remodeled). (Brown 1908:292)
Between 1871 and 1880, Jenkin Lloyd Jones was pastor of All Soul's Church. Lloyd Jones was to
become a significant figure in the Unitarian Church. While in Janesville, he founded a
regional Sunday School program, invented the United Club, and helped start a newspaper for
the Western Unitarian Conference. He was also made secretary of the Western Unitarian
Conference while still in Janesville, and was a force in promoting liberalism in the church. In
1880, he left the Janesville church to work in Chicago and where he gained national attention
for his promotion of Unitarian ideas and his church's social activism. (Wyatt 1986: vol. 3,
Religion, 18-3-184)
All Soul's Church in Janesville declined without the leadership of Lloyd Jones. In the 1880s
and 1890s, the church went through a series of ministers. By 1901, membership had declined so
much that the congregation decided to sell the church property. It is not known if the
congregation continued to meet in public buildings or private homes, but the church never again
appeared in city directories. (Brown 1908:292-293; City Directories)
The old All Soul's Unitarian Church building at 121 E. Court St. is the most significant location
of the historic Unitarian congregation in Janesville. In particular, it is the site of the work of
Jenkin Lloyd Jones. However, when the church building was sold, it was completely remodeled
into an apartment building. While some elements of the historic structure may remain, it has
lost its integrity as a church building and, in its present state, is not potentially eligible for the
National Register of Historic Places.
Other Churches
A discussion of religious organizations in Janesville would not be complete without mentioning a
number of churches established in the mid- to late twentieth century. Some of these churches
have national denominational histories that date back to the nineteenth century; others are
non-denominational and have little history beyond the city. While some of these churches
have occupied historic buildings constructed for other denominations, most of them occupy
buildings that are not historically significant at this time.
Due to their relatively brief histories, these churches cannot yet be historically assessed. But
because they may be significant in the future, it is useful to list them for future reference:
Assembly of God, 2600 Mt. Zion Ave.; Rock Assembly of God, 2232 Hermitage Lane; New Life
Assembly of God, 2614 N. Wright Rd.; Old Christian & Missionary Alliance, 127 Madison St.;
Trinity Alliance Church, 340 N. Jackson St.; Orchard View Alliance Church, 2707 Bond P1.;
Church of God (Old Spring Brook Tabernacle), 402 W. Eastern Ave.; Church of God Prophecy,
571 N. Pine St.; Old Church of the Nazarene, 571 N. Pine St.; Church of the Nazarene, 1710
Randolph Rd.; Grace Tabernacle Church (Bible Truth Center), 524 Benton Ave.; Janesville
Bible Baptist Temple, 1650 S. Oakhill Ave.; Jehovah's Witnesses Kingdom Hall, 1033 Tripoli
Rd.
Today, many old, main-line churches are seeing declines in their congregations, while old
fundamentalist and new non-denominational churches are rapidly increasing. Janesville's
church history has been one of strong adherence to main-line denominations, but the growth in
the fundamentalist and non-denominational churches in the post-World War II era has been
Religion
223


Go up to Top of Page