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Greet the Christmas dawn at the Colony Church in Bishop Hill

Press Release - Friday, December 03, 2021

BISHOP HILL, Ill. - The Christmas tradition of "Julotta" returns at Bishop Hill State Historic Site. All are welcome to attend a nondenominational church service at 6 a.m. Christmas Day, Saturday, Dec. 25 in the Colony Church.

The word Julotta comes from the Swedish words for "yule" and "before dawn." Christmas morning in Sweden begins with attendance at the Julotta service. Since 1970, the service has been a tradition in Bishop Hill to help reaffirm the community's Swedish heritage.

Constructed in 1848 by Swedish immigrants, the public is invited to attend the worship service at the restored Colony Church. The liturgy will be led by the Rev. Lisa Unger of the Stronghurst and United Methodist Churches. Readers include the Rev. Bryan Griem of the First Baptist Church of Galva and the Rev. Dan Wright of the First Congregation Church of Toulon. The organist will be Ann Larson, with special music by Courtney Stone. Coffee and rusks, a Swedish pastry similar to biscotti, will be available in the Colony Church Museum after the service.

Those planning to attend are encouraged to dress for the weather, as the sanctuary will be unheated during the service. All individuals attending and participating in the service will be required to observe all current guidance from the CDC and Illinois Department of Public Health regarding face coverings and social distancing.

The community of Bishop Hill, founded by Swedish immigrants in 1846, is located 20 miles south of Interstate 80 and 17 miles east of Interstate 74 in Henry County. The Colony Church is located at 101 Maiden Lane in Bishop Hill.

The Bishop Hill site will be closed Dec. 25 (except for the Julotta service) and Jan. 1, 2022.

For more information on Bishop Hill and other state historic sites, visit

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