Bloomington Mennonite Church (Bloomington, Illinois, USA)
The Bloomington Mennonite Church began as a church plant of the Illinois Mennonite Mission Board in 1956. The Board wanted to provide a congregation for Mennonites moving to Bloomington for work reasons and to provide greater support for young Mennonite women training at the Mennonite Hospital School of Nursing. In those years, cooperation between the Mennonite Church (MC), of which the Illinois Mennonite Conference was a part, and the General Conference Mennonite Church was limited. Thus the board did not seek to work with the nearby First Mennonite Church of Normal.
Joseph Kauffman, a new graduate from Goshen Biblical Seminary, moved with his family to Bloomington in June 1956. He began with a Summer Bible School in O'Neil Park, a working-class Catholic neighborhood. The Mission Board soon purchased a house on North Livingston Street that served as the mission center until 1958. In late 1958 the congregation and Mission Board purchased the Foursquare Gospel Church at 1101 North Roosevelt Avenue. The congregation formally organized on 5 April 1959.
The congregation did some remodeling of the building in 1962. Its pastor, Harold Zehr, became very active in numerous organizations, including the Mennonite Hospital. The congregation also increased cooperation with the First Mennonite Church of Normal, jointly sponsoring student events and working together on the hospital's expansion. When membership began to drop in the early 1970s, the two congregations began to consider uniting in an era when General Conference Mennonite Church and Mennonite Church cooperation was increasing.
Formal conversations increased when Bloomington began searching for a pastor after Harold Zehr announced his departure. First Mennonite and Bloomington formed an inter-church task force in 1975 to recommend alternatives for greater unity. The churches began to meet together for worship in September 1975, and they structured another task force. On 26 September 1976, both congregations voted unanimously to merge and become the Mennonite Church of Normal.
For the history of the merged congregation, see Mennonite Church of Normal.
Goossen, Rachel Waltner. Meetingplace: A History of the Mennonite Church of Normal, 1912-1987. Normal, Ill.: Mennonite Church of Normal, 1987: 73-85, 98-109.
Address: 1101 North Roosevelt Avenue, Bloomington, Illinois
Denominational Affiliations: Illinois Mennonite Conference
Pastoral Leaders at Bloomington Mennonite Church
|Joseph I. "Joe" Kauffman (1931-1999)||1956-1958|
|Henry J. King (1891-1981)(Interim)||1958-1959|
|Harold A. Zehr (1903-1975)||1959-1972|
|Carl K. Newswanger||1972-1976|
Membership at Bloomington Mennonite Church
|Author(s)||Samuel J Steiner|
|Date Published||November 2022|
Cite This Article
Steiner, Samuel J. "Bloomington Mennonite Church (Bloomington, Illinois, USA)." Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. November 2022. Web. 7 Dec 2023. https://gameo.org/index.php?title=Bloomington_Mennonite_Church_(Bloomington,_Illinois,_USA)&oldid=174341.
Steiner, Samuel J. (November 2022). Bloomington Mennonite Church (Bloomington, Illinois, USA). Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. Retrieved 7 December 2023, from https://gameo.org/index.php?title=Bloomington_Mennonite_Church_(Bloomington,_Illinois,_USA)&oldid=174341.
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