By Chris Webler, Guest Contributor  


If a church is fortunate, there are a few people in the congregation who decide to donate a significant portion of their time to their church. First United Methodist Church of Evanston has been the recipient of such a decision by Bill Brown since he joined the membership with his wife Nancy in 1985. This piece will not attempt to list everything he has accomplished, but will instead begin in the year 2000 when he was a member of the Building Renovation Committee, which executed the creation of our Church Street entrance and office, our bathrooms and elevator.

From 2008 until the present day, Bill has served on the Board of Trustees and has chaired the Board since 2017. He has presided over the renovation of the Te Deum window and the maintenance of selected other windows, exterior work including tuck pointing and stone replacement, and major improvements at both parsonages (as we prepared for our new ministers, Grace Imathiu followed by Britt Cox). Perhaps the most visible work the congregation has seen is the complete landscape restoration of our property, including the Garth (Memorial Garden) and the renovation and landscaping of the Total Child Preschool playground. This landscaping work was noticed by The Evanston Environmental Association and our Church was asked to participate in their 2022 Garden Walk where our neighbors walked the gorgeous property with guides.

Bill mentioned that he found the Tittle Chapel Organ addition and renovation the most fun, for he used his knowledge of organ building and project management during the project. And our youth were not forgotten with his upgrading of their basement Room M. His most frequent work has to have been the extensive maintenance and improvement of the HVAC, plumbing, fire protection, electrical, heating systems, and roof systems of the building, as well as the repair and improvement projects for Total Child Preschool.

The most extended effort has been and continues to be representing First Church (along with Pastor Grace) in opposing a proposed high-rise building at 1621–31 Chicago Avenue on multiple occasions. None of this has deterred his decision to serve our church as he decided back in 1985. To further support our building and its needs, he has offered to mentor our new custodian Mike Schmidt who joined the church staff this year. In his spare time, Bill will take members on a tour of the church building and will also give occasional tours of the Chicago Botanic Garden, where he was vice president of Facilities and Planning until his retirement in 2012. His kind, generous and professional volunteerism will continue to serve First Church in the years ahead. Bill, we salute and thank you for the years of stewardship you have given to our beautiful church.