Formerly First Baptist Church of Minooka, we’ve been in continual ministry since 1834. Over the last 180 years, we’ve experienced a few name changes, met in various places and had different pastors lead us. As we press on, it’s easy to see we truly have a rich heritage, a bold vision and bright future!
A Rich History…
Founded in 1834, Christ First Baptist Church has been serving Christ and the community for over 180 years. While today we see a beautiful church facility with many modern amenities, it was not always this way.
Around the middle of August in 1831, Rev. J.E. Ambrose, who was preaching at Hadley—Yankee Settlement near what is now Marley, IL, came fourteen miles on foot, by an Indian Trail to preach a week to a group of Baptists in Plainﬁeld. In September, he came again and arranged for the formation of a church. The church was founded in October of 1834 with ﬁve charter members and was known simply as The Baptist Church in Plainfield.
In February of 1836, the decision was made to build a formal meeting house. Prior to this, the church had met in homes and log cabins. The building was completed in the summer of 1836 on the corner of what is now Lockport Street and Route 59. The ﬁrst building was 30′ x 40′ and was dedicated on November 23, 1836. It was the ﬁrst meeting house erected in Plainﬁeld and was the second Baptist church built in what was then called the Northwest.
In 1838, Pastor Ambrose left to become pastor of a church in Big Woods, IL, now known as Batavia. Pastor R.B. Ashley began his pastorate in 1838 and would pastor for four and a half years. He acted as supply for the church on six different occasions – the last time in 1867. He was a man of strict integrity and fearless utterance, especially as to slavery and secret societies. He passed away in Plainfield in 1880 after having preached for 51 years.
During the first five years of its existence, the church grew from five charter members to fifty-nine. In 1840, the church minutes speak of great revival and an outpouring of the Spirit and a gathering of souls that continued for some time. During that year, thirty-five people were added, twenty-five by baptism.
In 1857, under the leadership of Pastor AD. Freeman, a new church facility was built. lt was much larger and more commodious. The church was built debt free at a cost of $4,500.
In the 1870’s, the church began to be known and referred to in the church records and community as Plainfield Baptist Church. The church even published a paper in the late 1870’s using the title “The Plainfield Baptist.” Throughout the remainder of the 19th century, many different men filled the pulpit and while the messengers may have changed the message never did. First Baptist Church has always remained true to the fundamentals of the faith.
As First Baptist Church prepared to enter the twentieth century, we did so with a reaffirmation of the beliefs and practices with which it had always held. Under Pastor Rocho in 1887, the church drafted a resolution that they would continue to take an unwavering stand against worldly amusements such as dance, the theater and kindred amusements.
In the early 1900’s, the church began to be known formally as First Baptist Church of Plainfield. The church would be called by this name for about the next 100 years. On December 22, 1914, shortly after midnight, the church burned to the ground due to an overheated furnace. The very next Sunday, the church met in the Opera House and voted to rebuild! On Sunday, November 21, 1915 the church held a dedication service for the new church building. The church was still meeting in that building when Pastor O’Neal was called to the pastorate. Many of the pieces from our old building have been integrated into our new facility. The stained glass windows, pulpit and deacon’s bench are all pieces that have been in our church for decades and are constant reminders of our rich heritage.
Great men of God ﬁlled the pulpit of First Baptist Church through good times and bad. Pastor Fred Donnelson who pastored the church from 1930 -1933 would later become a great missionary to the land of China.
In 2000 the church called a young preacher by the name of Andrew O’Neal to become the forty-seventh pastor of First Baptist Church. While candidating for the church, Pastor O’Neal could see the potential and began to get a vision for what God could do in this place. In 2004, under the leadership of Pastor O’Neal and with the support of the church, we took an amazing step of faith.
With no land purchased or building built, we sold less than an acre of property for over $1 million dollars. In December of 2004, God honored our faith by directing us to ﬁfteen acres of land. Over the next ﬁve years we would meet in high schools, middle schools, tents and basements awaiting the construction of our new church facility. The first service in the new building was held on Sunday, August 9, 2009 and was dedicated on Sunday, October 18, 2009. In December of 2014, the church voted overwhelmingly to officially change the name from First Baptist Church to Christ First Baptist Church.
As we look at the more recent history of Christ First Baptist Church, it is ﬁtting that we use a statement from the minutes of the church’s ﬁrst covenant meeting in 1834 where we find it noted that it was “a very blessed meeting.” This is still the case over 180 years later!