Church History

On May 20, 1866 a meeting was held in Normal of “brothers and sisters of the Baptist denomination living in this vicinity,” to organize a weekly prayer meeting and Sunday School. On August 22 of that year, a request was granted that a Baptist Church be started in Normal; and the Church had its first meeting on October 6. Thirty members of the First Baptist Church of Bloomington became the first members of the Normal Church by transfer of letter.

The name of Bates has been prominent in the minutes of the Church from the time of its founding.

A long prayer meeting, of three month’s duration, was held during the winter of 1867-68. On March 9, 1868, a committee was formed to look into building a church building (the members had been meeting in a “chapel”, location unstated). The resulting church building was finished and dedicated in 1872.

Many boys and girls living at the Illinois Soldiers and sailors Childrens School attended our church, with a number of baptisms resulting.

In 1955 the Church voted to withdraw from the Denomination, but loyal American Baptists were able to keep the Church building in a landmark decision following lengthy proceedings in several courts.

In 1973 the men of the church removed an interior wall, opening up the sanctuary to the entire first floor. The sanctuary was remodeled in 1974, with a new platform, choir loft, baptistry and pews, and was redecorated. In 1979-80 a two-story addition gave much-needed rooms and facilities.

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