- Associated Press - Tuesday, November 1, 2016

ANNA, Ill. (AP) - When St. Anne’s Episcopal Church was de-sanctified in 1970, many of the furnishings were taken to other congregations or given to church members.

The church bell went to a congregation in Jacksonsville, Illinois, and the baptismal font was moved to St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church in Carbondale.

A font, or receptacle for baptismal water, is one of two primary pieces of liturgical furniture in a traditional church. The other is the altar. They symbolize the two sacraments ordained by Christ himself, communion and baptism, according to a website for St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church in Richmond, Virginia.

Members of PAST (Promoting Appreciation of Structural Treasures) knew the font was at St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church where it was used for many years. In September, they discovered St. Andrew’s stored the vintage baptismal font. After careful consideration of St. Andrew’s Church Vestry, it was decided to return the baptismal font to St. Anne’s Church. Elaine Crain, a member of PAST and longtime resident of Anna, said this was because of the efforts from Lynn Steveson of PAST, who acted as a liaison with St. Andrew’s.

St. Anne’s Church is a Late Victorian Gothic structure built in 1886 from natural limestone from the Anna Stone Co. The church was formed about 1883, but services were held before 1883 in other churches and the Temperance Hall in Anna. A newspaper article in the PAST scrapbook dates the font to the 1870s.

“This was never a full-blown church,” Crain said. “It was a mission church.”

St. Anne’s is located in the middle of a block of old homes on North Main Street. It has a small parking lot behind the building with room for two or three cars at most. For many years, parking was allowed along Main Street. When parking was no longer allowed on Main Street, the nearest parking was at Stinson Memorial Library.

The church was deeded to PAST through the efforts of Linda Hileman. Owner Frank LaFoon was going to have it torn down. Hileman asked if PAST could rent the building and LaFoon said he’d rather give it to the organization.

St. Anne’s had fallen into disrepair. Crain said the roof leaked, floors had deteriorated, a velvet curtain at the front of the church was in shreds and raccoons had been in the building. The electric organ used at the church since 1940 was in bad shape, too.

“Just about everything needed redone,” Crain said.

PAST began restoring the church in 2001. St. Anne’s Church was listed on the U.S. National Register of Historic Places in 2003.

Crain said furnishings have come back to the church, including six pews that had been owned by former church members. The original organ, a Kimball Organ Co. pump organ that still works, also was donated back to the church. Crain’s late husband, Bob, built shelves for the windows, and a small kitchenette was added.

Today, the church is used for events, including smaller weddings, anniversaries, concerts, programs and meetings.

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Source: The (Carbondale) Southern Illinoisan,

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Information from: Southern Illinoisan, https://www.southernillinoisan.com


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