Our story begins on July 17, 1830, when eight pioneers formed Springfield’s first Baptist witness, then known as First Baptist Church of Springfield. Only a few years later, October 6, 1833, 29 Baptist Christians planted the First Baptist Church of New Berlin.
Over the next 40 years, members of the First Baptist Church of Springfield helped to organize Baptist churches in Loami, Clary Grove, Rock Creek, and Decatur, and established the North Baptist Church in Springfield. And the First Baptist Church of New Berlin continued to grow, establishing the first missionary society in Sangamon County, the Women’s Missionary Society, in 1878.
In 1880, the congregations of the North Baptist Church of Springfield and the First Baptist Church of Springfield agreed to merge for a more effective witness and became Central Baptist Church. Consistent with our early tradition of missionary expansion, members of Central Baptist Church also helped organize the South Seventh Street (now known as Cherry Hills, Elliott Avenue, Harvard Park, and Fairview Baptist churches in Springfield, as well as Judson Baptist Church in Chatham and Rolling Prairie Baptist Church in Rochester.
The First Baptist Church of New Berlin moved to a building and continued in existence until September of 1965, when it merged with the Bates Presbyterian Church and became known as United Baptist Church. On April 25, 1971, United Baptist Church built a new building, which has now become the New Berlin Campus of Central Baptist Church.
In December of 1966, Central completed and dedicated a building on 4th Street across from the Governor’s Mansion. That building is currently home to our Downtown Springfield Campus. History buffs will be interested to know that the church bell at our Downtown Campus is the same bell Abe Lincoln heard ringing at First Baptist Church when he lived and worked in Springfield.
In August, 2009, Central and the members of United Baptist Church decided to become one church family loving God, loving people, and serving the world in two locations. We became a multi-site church with campuses in Downtown Springfield and in New Berlin on January 3, 2010.
We continue our strong missionary outreach today, working cooperatively with the American Baptist Churches, USA.