“For the worship of God and the proclamation of the Gospel”
The First Baptist Church of Bloomington was organized in 1837, a significant year in the history of Illinois, when Abraham Lincoln moved from New Salem to Springfield; Chicago was incorporated as a city; John Deere first showed a steel-pointed, self-scouring plow; the first printing press and newspaper appeared in Central Illinois; and Knox College was founded.
Religiously, it was also the period in mainstream Protestantism known as the "Second Great Awakening" with its focus on "civilizing" the western frontier. John Mason Peck and others were calling Illinois Baptists to proliferate and organize.
The organizing members of the congregation, all newly relocated residents seeking the opportunities of a new land, gathered on December 30, 1837 to establish a church of Baptist principles for the worship of God and the proclamation of the Gospel. These earliest members were of deep religious conviction, considering themselves to be missionaries with their mission being to bring people to salvation. Rev. Isaac D. Newell, the congregation's first pastor, was also supported by the Bloomington congregation in founding Baptist churches in other communities in the area. In 1846 Rev. Newell became the president of Baptist-related Shurtleff College in Alton.
From its earliest years, the First Baptist Church of Bloomington has been sending, teaching, preaching, and praising…all undergirded by worship. The "sending" included preachers with names like Fagerburg; missionaries to China and Africa; three current professional social workers to major cities; the first president of Judson College, Amos Barton; two presidents of the old Illinois Baptist State Convention, R.O. and Edward R. Ahlenius, and the establishment of two local missions and at least twelve other congregations in the area. Since the establishment of the Great Rivers Region of the American Baptist Churches, the church has provided numerous leaders for regional ministries, and has been the home of three Area Ministers.
This faithful legacy of worship and witness continues to inspire and empower this congregation as it seeks to be faithful in ever new and unfolding ways.
Quoted and adapted from "Journey In Faith" (the first 150 years of FBC history)
by Stanley and Evelyn Lantz and First Baptist Church Historical Committee
©1987 First Baptist Church All Rights Reserved
A short history of Baptists in America can be found at http://www.abc-usa.org/resources/history.pdf