First Baptist Church of Amboy to celebrate 100th anniversary of building dedication

Celebration set for Sunday, April 28

The First Baptist Church of Amboy is shown in 1924.

AMBOY – First Baptist Church of Amboy will celebrate the 100th anniversary of the dedication of the old red brick church meeting house at 24 N. Mason Ave. on Sunday, April 28.

The day will include a rededication service during the 9:30 a.m. Sunday school hour. The morning service at 10:30 a.m. will include special music and a message from evangelist Dan Martin. There will be a display of old artifacts, and many of the church members will dress in old-fashioned clothes to celebrate the day.

Everyone is welcome to attend.

The First Baptist Church of Amboy was organized March 24, 1855, and its first meeting house was an old schoolhouse on West Main Street, Pastor Rocky Fritz said.

Some of the key members of the community also were members of the Baptist Church, including William E. Ives, who was the first practicing attorney in Lee County, an early mayor of Amboy, state’s attorney and also a personal acquaintance of Abraham Lincoln.

The church moved to a new building erected on Mason Avenue on Sept. 13, 1857.

On Feb. 9, 1923, the church was preparing for a funeral. The coal furnace was started that morning to heat the building, and it sparked a fire that destroyed the church building. A number of firefighters narrowly escaped a collapsing wall. Two firefighters suffered minor injuries, and one firefighter was badly injured and taken to the hospital for treatment, Fritz said.

In the months after the fire, the church continued to hold regular meetings in the I.O.O.F. Hall and the W.R.C. Hall.

Plans for a new building were finalized by the members under the leadership of Pastor Fred Baldus. The new brick building would be built on the original foundation with additional space added to the south. To gain the added space, the house to the south was purchased by the church and sold at an auction to be moved away.

The bell, which survived the fire, would be reinstalled in the new bell tower.

In early December 1923, the cornerstone of the new building was set before a large crowd that had gathered to witness the event. The new church building was first used May 11, 1924; however, all services were held in the basement until the time of the official dedication July 6.

Most of the needed funds for the new building were covered by the members and friends of the church, and the rest was covered by insurance.

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