BLOOMINGTON — The First Church of Nazarene on Bloomington's east side is celebrating more than 100 years in the community with special ceremonies this weekend.
The church at 2207 N. Towanda Barnes Road will hold a centennial service at 10 a.m. Sunday (today) with a focus on its future ministry.
A service and reception on Saturday night featured former pastors and members and included reflection on the church's past.
On Sunday, the band “The Narrow” will lead a service by guest preacher Scott Sherwood, a lifelong member will be honored, the mortgage papers will be burned and the congregation will celebrate a remodeled sanctuary. Sunday's service will be followed with a lunch at noon.
The Rev. Bob Hasselbring, who has served as pastor for nearly two years, described the celebrations as “a look through the rearview mirror and the windshield.”
“The mirror is just there for a glance to look back and celebrate God’s faithfulness, but we can’t rest on that view. We have to look out through the windshield for the vision God has for us. We want to find new, relevant, fresh ways to bring the message of God’s healing grace and peace to Bloomington-Normal,” he said.
Hasselbring said the church of about 100 members was founded in 1915 with four families meeting to worship in their Bloomington homes.
It was one of the first Nazarene churches in the area after the denomination was established in 1908, he said.
Before settling in the current location on Towanda-Barnes Road 21 years ago, the church home was at 701 W. Washington St.
Since then, First Church of Nazarene has planted several sister churches in Central Illinois, including Grace Church of the Nazarene and Point of Change Church of the Nazarene, both in Bloomington.
“We have a strong heritage, not only in town but across the district. It’s a privilege to be a part of this community,” said Hasselbring.
Besides the regular 10 a.m. service each Sunday, the church also hosts a weekly home school group, Bible study, youth group, children's ministry and prayer sessions. Hasselbring said the church is planning further outreach activities.
“Our mission is to connect, grow and serve,” said Hasselbring. “Part of the looking-forward aspect is a rededication of ourselves to the mission and thanks to the Lord for all the things he’s done in us, through us and around us.”