Of Aroma Park United Methodist Church

The first seeds of the Aroma church were planted by Methodist circuit riders preaching to settlers along the soft-running currents of the Kankakee and Iroquois Rivers beginning in 1840. Only eight years earlier the area’s original inhabitants, the Potawatomi Native American Tribe, had been shipped off to Iowa under terms of the Treaty of Tippecanoe. The seeds planted in 1840 took firm root during an open-air revival in 1866 conducted by a Rev. Joseph Hartwell at Dudley’s Grove, about three miles northeast of the Aroma Park Church’s present location.  An article in the Kankakee Gazetteat the time had this to say about the event:

…a revival of religion has been in progress at Aroma for some weeks past, the result of which has been the addition to the church of over one hundred members.  Many of the converts are adults, heads of families, and leading citizens of the village.  Mr. Hartwell’s labors have been crowned with success.

The first church building in Aroma (the village of Aroma Park was then called Waldron) was dedicated on August 14, 1870. Two days before the dedication, the bell purchased for the tower of the new building passed through the city of Kankakee, an event reported by the Kankakee Gazette:  

A new bell for the Methodist Church in Aroma passed through this city last Friday.  As it passed, our citizens were treated to a sound of its quality, and all gave it a word of commendation.  It weighs 650 lbs., 800 with mountings, and was cast by Blymer, Norton and Company of Cincinnati.

That first church building was razed and replaced by the existing structure in 1966.  The bell described in that 1870Gazettearticle still rings each Sunday morning from a specially constructed “bell tower” on the front lawn of the current church.