Bethanyís history began in 1877 as a Sunday School Class
that was held at Richwoods School House. In 1880, it was
officially recognized as a Baptist Sunday School and was
adopted by the First Baptist Church as its mission. By
1881, the interest and attendance had increased to the
extent that larger quarters were necessary. First Baptist
Church secured a piece of land on North Jefferson Avenue
and the Chapel was built in 1882. In April of 1891,
members felt that it was time to organize Bethany Baptist
Mission into a regular Baptist Church. Bethany Baptist
Church was officially filed in the state of Illinois, Peoria
County, on December 29, 1891 stating that it was duly
organized as a church on May 10, 1891.
The lot at North Jefferson was sold and the Mission
building was moved to the 1800 block of North Madison.
Although the 1920ís and 1930ís were difficult years for the
nation and the growth of the church due to the Great
Depression, Bethany was affiliated with the Northern
Baptist Convention and the Peoria Baptist Association.
The 1940ís were the beginning of change for Bethany. Its
missionary emphasis was coupled with a strong
evangelistic approach. It was in 1943 that the Bethany
Baptist Broadcaster was born and sent to the boys in the
service. By 1944, the church had a total of seven
missionaries. The Menís Fellowship and Fishermanís
group were active in meeting for prayer, socials and
handing out tracts.
It was in 1948 when Bethany Baptist Church withdrew
from the Northern Baptist Convention and joined the
Conservative Baptist Association of America. Plans were
in progress to build a new church on North Perry and it
was completed and dedicated on February 1, 1953. In
the following years, a Pastorís membership class was
established. The Fellowship Fund was established to help
any members who were in need of financial assistance.
Pioneer Girls and Christian Service Brigade were started
In August of 1961, there were 330 children enrolled in
Vacation Bible School. The growth of the church
continued and space for Sunday School rooms was greatly
needed. By December of 1962, the possibility of adding to
the present structure was being considered. In May of
1964, Bethany won the Conservative Baptist Association
area contest with an average of 522 in Sunday School.
On November 29, 1967, the congregation voted to buy
the property which would become 7229 North Knoxville
and the new home of Bethany Baptist Church.
The 1970ís continued to be a period of growth for
Bethany Baptist Church. There was a time of much prayer
seeking the Lordís will and guidance for decisions to be
made. There was a ďround-the-clockĒ prayer chain and
home prayer meetings were held each week in addition
to the Sunday evening prayer services. The decision
was made to build on the Knoxville property and on
August 1, 1976, the congregation occupied the new
building. On October 16, 1976, the new Seville organ
was dedicated. On November 14, 1976, the church
was completely dedicated to the Lord for His glory
During the 1980ís and 1990ís, the church continued to
grow and, in the late 1990ís the decision was made to
expand the building to better serve the needs of the
growing Sunday School classes. Since the church has
continued to grow exponentially in the last 10 years, and
due to a severe parking problem on Sunday mornings,
(even with three services), the decision was made in
2004 to purchase property on Heinz Lane. Currently,
construction people are viewing the site and will be
presenting the building plan to the congregation by
the summer of 2005.
Adapted from: The Centennial History of Bethany Baptist Church,
Peoria, Illinois, 1881-1991 by Charlotte Wallen.
Bethany Baptist Church, 7422 North Heinz Lane, Edwards, IL 61528 firstname.lastname@example.org | Phone: (309) 692-1755 | Fax: (309) 692-1779