On the Corner of Illinois and Race

The year was 1895, and the congregation of First Baptist Church in Urbana, with a membership of 400, sought to build a new church building, having outgrown their current location.  Stanford Hall was elected as Architect and later as Superintendent of the building.

"It is of German- Romanesque architecture in brick and gray stone. Memorial windows of tasty designs make permanent the names of many beloved members.” 1 

"The construction of the roof to support the great weight is a marvel of architectural and mechanical skill. L. M. Moore and Son, the contractors, are lavish in their praise of the perfection of detail in the Architect's plans.” 2

“...may its influence count, forward, not backward, up not down, out, not in…” 3

The University and The Church.

Over the years, First Baptist Church had a close relationship with the University of Illinois and it's students.

Probably no church of the 27 within the Twin Cities, not distinctively organized as a student church, has been closer to the life of the University, than the First Baptist church. Many of her young people have been students, and some have won places in the ranks of instructors. Many have received University instruction along special lines, and are out among the world's workers making good. During all these years the church and the university have grown together. 4

“This church, almost above any other, ought to present to the student body, living it’s four, or more years here, the highest spiritual standards.  It should be the aim of the church to set up proper ideals for the students, and not yield itself to the natural proclivities of youthful desires, and tendencies, when the restraint of home are taken away.”5

"It should be the aim of this church to see to it, as far as any and all who ever attend the church, or school, should go away filled with the high ideals of spiritual life, and it’s real relations to the great callings for which these students come here to prepare.  The church receives them under its influences at the time when they are the most impressible, and when many if not most of them are taking higher ambitions, and seeking wider visions of life.  They are making new ties to take the place those at home, and it should be the aim of our own young people to set before these students the highest images of religious life and morality.” 6

Redeemer Church Est. 2009

Redeemer Church was founded in 2009. Since then, we've moved around a bit – from a living room to the Hawthorne Suites to the Independent Media Center, where we stayed until 2015.  God has been good, and we've grown from a couple of people with a dream to a diverse body of people that range from students to retirees.  In 2015, having begun to exhaust the resources at the IMC, we began looking for a new place to meet.  The Lord laid on our hearts an old brick building on the corner of Race and Illinois.  This old structure once held the worshipers of the first Baptist church in Urbana, and was for years a symbol of Christianity in the community.  But like all 100-year-old buildings, it is in need of some renovation.

As we move into the next phase of our church's life, we are looking forward to reviving the symbol that this church building was in the community, not because a building itself holds any power for change, but that the people who will be gathering within its walls Sunday after Sunday have been changed by the Gospel.

"Just as God does not tear us down and start over with something new, so we will not. And just as God takes over ownership of our hearts and embarks on the lifelong process of reshaping and reorienting our hearts, so we will seek to picture that throughout the life of this building." 7