BLOOMINGTON — For Keegan Majors of Bloomington, his Sunday morning commute to church just got a whole lot shorter.
Majors lives near downtown Bloomington and is one of about 6,000 members of the Eastview Christian Church at 1500 North Airport Road in Normal. On Sunday, he spent the morning at the church’s newest facility, at 400 Union St., the former Crosswinds Community Church. The first service was held Sunday.
“I’m excited to have a campus closer to home,” he said, while serving on a volunteer crew cooking hamburgers and hot dogs for members of the church, just outside of the new venue. “It’s really a special day.”
Eastview Senior Pastor Mike Baker said the church purchased the facility earlier in the year, which is about 100 years old and includes plenty of space for children and youth classes, he said.
“We are really excited and it’s something we have been working on since February,” he said. “We had hoped to start worshiping here in September and we made it.”
The facility was extensively remodeled, he said.
“We painted, put in new flooring and did just about everything to get it ready, but we are very proud of it and are anxious to show it off,” he said.
The church welcomed both members and non-members on Sunday.
“We have been trying to get to know the neighbors around the church and invite them to come see us,” Baker said. “It’s close to Wesleyan and downtown and we did a lot of door to door visiting, because we want to see it filled every week.”
There were several visitors who were at the church for the first time.
“I only live a few blocks away, but there does appear to be a lot of excitement because of the new location,” said Stacey Nelson. “It’s a friendly group and there is plenty of music and I don’t feel awkward because they are all so helpful and nice.”
The church was founded in Bloomington in 1955 by a group of 19 people. It originally met in the former Bloomington YMCA, which no longer exists. Professors from Lincoln Bible Institute led the services, and Galen Skinner was hired as the first full-time preacher in 1960, when the church moved into a permanent location on Emerson Street.
Baker became Eastview’s fourth Senior Pastor in 2007, taking over for Gary York, who retired after 32 years of service.
Baker will be preaching at both locations, he said.
“It’s going to be interesting,” he added. “For the beginning of this, I will preach at 9 a.m. at our Airport Road campus, then, I will drive to Bloomington to preach at the 10 a.m. service and then, drive back home and preach again at the 11 a.m. Airport Road service. That’s crazy I know.”
The church has doubled its volunteers and worship team to prepare, he said.
“I’m excited that we are finally here,” said church member Patrick McLean, one of the volunteers assisting with the hamburger and hot dog lunch. "It’s nice to see members of the church and also meet some new people from the neighborhood.”
Baker said he hopes that will continue.
“We are really hoping to get more of a presence in the neighborhood,” Baker added. “We have been knocking on every door. It has more of a neighborhood church feel to it and we embrace that as well.”