| ABOUT US
and Reverend R. L. Lockerby, missionary of the Illinois Valley Baptist Association, conducted a survey
of Macomb. Fellowship meetings were held throughout the remainder of 1958 and into 1959 in the
home of Don and Sarah Heberling, 540 N. Albert Street. Temple Baptist Church in Canton, Illinois,
was now sponsoring the mission endeavor in Macomb.
On July 15, 1959, Temple Baptist Church voted to sponsor a mission chapel in Macomb. The first
Sunday service was held in the Heberling home on August 2, 1959. Brother Gene Stookey of Canton
spoke. Don and Sarah Heberling became the first members of Grace Temple Baptist Chapel. The next
Sunday Brother and Mrs. W. H. Burch and their son Calvin joined the mission.
In January, 1960, Reverend Lloyd Spencer was appointed area missionary in Macomb by the Illinois Baptist State Association. He and his family united with the mission February 28, 1960. He stayed until March, 1964, when he left to become the missionary for the Sinnissippi and Blackhawk Associations of northern Illinois. A small home on South Ward Street was rented for services and was replaced in just a few weeks when a larger house at 341 South Johnson was rented. June 20 through July 1, 1960, the first Vacation Bible School was held there.
Later in 1960, the building at 725 West Jefferson was secured and served the congregation until 1965. December 21, 1960, a call was extended by the church to Reverend Rey Pady of Mt. Vernon, Illinois, to become the pastor of the Macomb Mission. He accepted and served until December 17, 1961.
After all attempts to find a successor failed, in 1963, the Home Mission Board of the Southern Baptist Convention offered to underwrite a pastoral missionary program in Macomb. On February 2, 1964, a call was extended to Reverend Carl Watkins of Ridgway, Illinois, to become pastoral missionary in Macomb and he accepted.
On February 12, 1964, the Temple Baptist Church of Canton approved the recommendation that Grace Temple Baptist Chapel be constituted into a New Testament church. This occurred on April 19, 1964, and the name was changed to First Southern Baptist of Macomb. In November, 1964, the church purchased the house at 325 North Sherman Avenue. Services began to be held there in February, 1965, at which time the name of the church was changed to University Baptist Church.
In April, 1965, the property at 319 North Sherman Avenue was purchased for a parsonage. In October, 1967, it was converted into a day care center. In June, 1965, the property at 313 North Sherman Avenue was purchased as the site for a new building. At this same time the church united with the Greater Metropolitan Peoria Association.
In February, 1970, the church called Dr. Gary Halbrook from Ft. Worth, Texas, as pastor. He began his ministry in June of that year. May 23, 1971, ground breaking ceremonies were held for the new church building. With two separate bond issues totaling approximately $100,000, the church was constructed, though never completely finished as the plans had been drawn. Services began in the new building in February, 1973.
In March, 1977, after being led for several months by an interim pastor, Reverend Alan Hendrickson accepted the call to became pastor of the church. He served until 1979. Following a short period with an interim pastor, Reverend John Wilkinson began his service in May, 1980. Also in 1980 Sam White arrived, employed by the Illinois Baptist State Association, to minister to university students at Western Illinois University as the Baptist Student Union Director. Work with WIU students had begun in the late 1970s.
Pastor Wilkinson served until his retirement from the ministry in 1992. In August of that year Reverend Richard Hurtgen was called to the pastorate. Feeling the need for more educational space, a fellowship hall, office space and greater accessibility, the congregation embarked upon a Challenge to Build program. With the aid of volunteer groups from Illinois, Alabama, Georgia and Tennessee, extensive demolition and reconstruction of the existing church building was begun in 1993 and completed in 1995. Services were held in the Macomb YMCA Senior Center following Easter of 1993 and during major construction until the new building completion in 1994.
Following BSU Director Sam White's move in 1994, the Illinois Baptist State Association and the church entered into an agreement calling for the church to begin providing ministry to WIU with partial financial support from IBSA. Early in 1995, Phil Bell was called to become Director of the WIU Baptist Student Union and Youth Pastor for the church.
Affiliated with the