First Baptist Church of Towanda 205 W. Monroe Box 101 Towanda, IL. 61776 Many articles and notes have been presented about the Towanda Baptist Church and its history. With god's grace and blessings the church has been in service since 1856. We will be celebrating 150 years in 2006. It is the only active church in the village of towanda at this time. A brief review of the first 100 years: The church was founded in a meeting at Smith Grove in February 1856 at which time three people were baptized � Adam Livingston, Sen. Dewitt Livingston and Mary King along with 6 others received by letter the 9 members organized the church. The first minister was a Scotchman, Rev. Karn. In 1859 a lot was purchased in Towanda from Jesse Fell for $1.00. The logs for the first church were hand hewn by Sam Marsh and was completed in 1861 for a cost of $2,000 dollars. In 1869 the present structure was build on land donated to the church by James Langley. Over the years the church has been remodeled, a basement was dug out to accommodate the Sunday school classes, a modern kitchen and toilet facilities, In Nov. 1876 Deacon Langley donated a post to be erected as a hitching rack, also in 1876 the first organ was donated to the church by Mr. and Mrs. W. H. Macy. In 1879 the church was presented with a silver communion set which is still being used on special occasions. The silver set was shipped from England. The walnut wood from the organ was later made into the church pulpit by brother Albert Michael and is till being used today. The large bible, copyright in 1895, is still being used today and is the center piece displayed on the communion table in front of the pulpit. In 1887 an offering after communion was started to help the poor and later to assist the aged ministers and wives. In 1910 the north Sunday school room with a basement and furnace was added for a cost of $600.00. In 1933 the church celebrated its 77th anniversary with speaker rev. U. V. White from Delavan and had special music by the Delavan quartet.
During 1945 a basement was placed under the entire church with members supplying the work force. Also in 1945 the church sponsored the first chapter for the boy scouts of towanda with the help of rev. Horace Evans, Mr. Hanes, Perry Mckay, Oren Anderson assisting James Hutton as scout leader. During the centennial service held in the church in 1956 those who had passed on were remembered with respect of God. Rev. Roy Bailey, pastor since 1954 moved to Florida in 1956 and took many memories with him. Rev. Davis soon became our pastor. In April of 1963 a special dedication service was held for the remodeled sanctuary with the supervision of Mr. Oren Anderson and Richard Mice, and many other members helping. Also at the same time a beautiful baptismal picture was presented to the church by Mrs. Lillian Micheal who along with her daughter Mrs. Louis Gibson and her grandson Richard Nice, Jr. Had painted the picture. In 1973 the church joined the american baptist convention of the great rivers region area three. Following is a partial list of pastors Pastors Rev, Horase Rev. Roy Bailey Rev. Davis Dr. Richard Scheuerman Dr. David Zimmerman Rev. John Reynolds Rev. Vern Slater Rev. David Reynolds Rev. Charles Manto Dr. Edgar Snow Rev. Arthur Rude Dr. Jack Moody Rev. Calvin Lee Rev. Barney Moore Rev. Calvin Lee Rev. Andy Hawkins Kevin Mounce Cheri Grizzard Cal Gowen 1951 1954 1956 1967 1969 1971 1972 1976 1977 1980 1982 1984 1986 1989 1998 1999 2002 2004 2005
In 1975 the upper room was remodeled under the supervision of Oren Anderson and fellow church members. New front doors were added in the summer of 1983. In 1989 we were extremely blessed when rev. Barney Moore accepted the pastorate and brought along with him his wife Velma and sister in law Maxine Sewell who became the church pianist and organist as well as leadership in spiritual singing, since then pastor barney has passed away but the two sisters remain as important members and still hold their leadership responsibilities. In 1998 the parsonage was sold to Mr. and Mrs. Sam Nofziger. A storm in 2005 damaged the two larger fur trees in the front of the church and had to be destroyed. It looks a little bare now but we will get use to it. Recently in 2006 the new sign was added and has added more awareness to our cause in promoting the goodwill of our Lord Jesus Christ. Today as this is being written we have been continually blessed with out pastor Cal Gowen who recently retired from state farm and is serving our lord by watching over our Baptist congregation. As the beginning organizers stated "God is our only hope." We today agree with the founders of this First Baptist Church of Towanda and extend our blessings to all.
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Illinois State University, Milner Library, Normal, IL, 61790 - for the Towanda Area Historical Society/Towanda District Library
Towanda Area Historical Society/Towanda District Library
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