During the years 1852 and 1853, a group of travelling Methodist ministers belonging to the German Chicago-Northwest Conference began doing mission work in the small cities and villages between Chicago and Milwaukee. These ministers gathered into the membership of the Methodist church small groups of believing people. In Kenosha, the William Schwartz family was the core of the German Methodist Church; for in 1852, the son William joined the church and became its first member. Shortly afterwards, the father William August, another son, August and then a sister, Wilhelmina, joined the church. The de Velde, Reinhart and Becker families joined the early group and together they became the charter members.
At first worship services were held in the basement of the First Methodist Church, then later on in one of the public schools on the north side of the city. During the ministry of Rev. H. Roth, the small congregation purchased a lot north of 52nd Street at the intersection with 8th Avenue. (today this is an empty lot east of Lou Perrini’s gas station). Shortly after, timbers were hewn and the building of the new church was undertaken. It was during this time that the legal church birthday was set as August 7, 1854. Incorporation papers were drawn up and signed by the 5 member trustee board.
In the fall of 1854 the church building was completed. The first benches were made by laying boards across blocks of tree trunks. Rev W. Pfaeflle held revival meetings and new members came into the church. Elder William Schwartz, a furniture maker by trade, worked through the winter making new benches. The completed building was dedicated in the spring of 1855. On that day the church was named the Ebenezer German Methodist Church.
The term Ebenezer is from the Old Testament in the book of 1st Samuel. Samuel, a man of God had just replaced two corrupt brothers as the Judge of Israel. Under his leadership the people had returned to the true worship of God and had finally won a major battle against the Philistines. Samuel erected a large stone near the battlefield and had “Ebenezer” written on it. Ebenezer meant, “Thus far the Lord has helped us.” This is an eternal truth, when we are faithful to God, God is always faithful in helping us.