Second Presbyterian Church of Bloomington was founded June 3,1855 by 34 individuals opposed to slavery. The First Presbyterian Church of Bloomington, founded in 1833, had hired a pro-slavery pastor. This, along with the passage of the Kansas-Nebraska Act passed in 1854, was the impetus for 14 members from the First Church to join with 12 members of the anti- slavery Congregational Church to create the New School Presbyterian Church, later named Second Presbyterian Church of Bloomington.
Second Presbyterian Church has occupied the same site in downtown Bloomington and remains today, “The Heart of Christ in the Heart of the Community.”
Founding at Majors' Hall
Constitution and By-laws adopted
Rev. Alfred Eddy hired as Pastor. He serves 8 1/2 years.
Articles of Faith and Covenant established.
David and Sarah Davis, William and Judith Allin, and William and Sarah Flagg deed land for the erection of a church building for the sum of $1 at the present church location.
Committee is formed to plan a church building and raise subscriptions to cover costs.
Mrs. Leonard Swett (husband is friend and fellow circuit lawyer with Abraham Lincoln) joins the church.
L. W. Capen, Clerk of Session. The Capen family holds the position of Church Treasurer for four generations: Lumen, Henry, Fred, Henry. Charles Capen, son of Lumen wrote 70- year history in 1925.
Cornerstone is laid for the church building with a planned cost of $15,000.
Abraham Lincoln delivers “Lost Speech” at Majors’ Hall condemning slavery. Republican Party formed.
Church building is occupied at present location, East and Monroe Streets.
Music and hymns provided by soloists, ensembles, and choirs.
Elihu and Hannah Rogers deed additional land adjacent to the church for the sum of $600.
M. L. Moore becomes ruling elder. He serves 52 years as elder, 1858-1915. The Moores serve through three generations: M. L., John, and Louis.
M. L. Moore, Clerk of Session. He serves 49 years as Clerk.
Contributions made by New School Presbyterian Church: Home mission: $7.35, Church extension: $35.81, Bible Cause: $15.00, Sabbath School: $24.00.
Community Sabbath collection for the Poor: $24.00
Gilbert Thayer is Superintendent of the Sunday School.
146 members on church rolls with contributions to Domestic Missions: the Poor, and the Bible cause.
Contributions to Foreign Missions John M. Scott joins the church. Future Illinois Supreme Court Justice.
Rev. Eddy granted leave to serve as Chaplain in 4th Illinois Regiment. Rev. Moore hired to supply the pulpit for 4 months.
William Pillsbury joins the church by letter from the Theological Seminary, Andover, Mass. His son, Arthur, is the famed architect and church member.
Rev. Eddy resigns to take a pastorate at Olivet Presbyterian Church, Chicago. L. W. Capen and A. C. Washburn form a committee of correspondence for supply of the pulpit.
P. Y. Stewart is hired as sexton at $10 a month.
Rev. John W. Bailey called to be the Stated Supply Minister (He serves 3 years). He is accepted the next day.
Indignation Meeting - Local church’s gather at Courthouse to mourn passing of Lincoln.
First organ in city installed in the church & bell tower completed.
Rev. Bailey and one member visit a sick woman to baptize her, receive her confession, and be received as a member.
42 new members, “The day will ever be remembered by this church as one in which the Holy Spirit pervaded the whole assembly with marked power – and in which Christian hearts experienced more of the sweetness of the love of Jesus Our Lord than most of them ever had experienced before. Due to severe storm the night before church one person was unable to be received.” All the others braved the severe weather.
NO PASTOR IN THE PULPIT, SESSION RULES
Rev. Bailey resigns. M. L. Moore, is chosen Clerk of Session and directed to “take charge of the records.” Bros. Washburn and Capen assigned to procure a temporary supply of the pulpit and to take the necessary steps for obtaining a Pastor.
Session conducts 5 meetings with business as usual without a pastor. A. Washburn, serves as Moderator.
Bloomington Presbytery calls a meeting to be held at 1 st Church. “The following petition signed by 131 members of this Church was Received. ‘To the Elders of the 2 nd Presbyterian Church of the City of Bloomington, Ill., We the undersigned members of the Church of which you are Elders having heard of your contemplated resignation would respectfully represent that the Office of Elder cannot be laid aside at pleasure, that such Resignation is not in conformity with the usages of the Presbyterian Church; that you cannot and should not resign without just and sufficient cause, and that such resignation might prove disastrous to the interest of the church. For many years God has prospered the church. Under your care and control, Unity, Peace, and Concord have prevailed among us, and we have good reason to hope that under your management, all disturbing elements will soon be Removed. We believe Peace and Harmony can best be promoted by your continuance in Office and we respectfully ask you to reconsider your proposed resignation, praying that your decision may be for the best interests of the church and the God will speedily grant us Peace, Unity, and Prosperity. Bloomington, Ill. May 1867’”
Annual meeting is convened “to decide upon the office of Ruling Elders.” Rev. McLean, 1 st Church presiding. Motion: “That in our opinion the best interests of the Church will be maintained by the continuance in office of the present elders. Viz. A. C. Washburn, L. W. Capen, D. Brier, P. Y. Stewart, W. Gillespie, M. L. Moore, and H. Richardson.” 60 ayes, 19 nays” June 12, 1867 Session meets with all elders present. Business as usual.
Rev. A. M. McDougall called to be the Stated Supply Minister (He serves 2½ years)83 new members are received during 1867 despite its being a year of disruption.
A number of members are reported to have been received without letters to 1 st Church. The Clerk is assigned to obtain the names from 1 st Church.
1 st Church responds after second request made and referred to the Pastor who has the church records. The clerk calls on the pastor at his residence. who made known that he would not share information respecting names of those received, “however a pleasant conversation issued in the course of which he observed that he had no objections to giving me the names as an individual and without reference to any record or list, named quite a number, and said only two were received who said they had applied to us for letters, and said he advised them to call upon the Clerk of this session and make known their actions and state reasons.” Session moves to draw up a letter of remonstrance to the proceedings of the Session of the 1 st Church.
“Remonstrance” letter sent to First Church stating that they improperly received new members.
First Church calls “Remonstrance” letter an “obstacle which, so long as it remains, makes consultation impossible.”
Church enrollment 268.
Old School (1 st Church) sends a letter proposing consolidating their church with 2 nd Church.
Rev. McDougall gives unfavorable report verbally, “upon the paper of propositions received from Old School 1 st Presbyterian” Church and asks for more time to prepare his written report. One week is granted.
Session approves the request from the trustees and “leading members of this church” that a meeting of the Church and Society be held to decide whether the present supply of the Pulpit shall be continued. Rev. McDougall, moderator, suggests that a chance be given on the day of the meeting for those to vote who cannot be present for the evening meeting. After some opposition it is agreed. Rev. McDougall offers his report on consolidation with 1 st Church. It is “together with the proposition laid on the table to be taken up at the discretion of the Session.”
Vote on Rev. McDougall: Congregational meeting is held “for the casting of ballots.” The “tickets”, or ballots, that were cast in the afternoon session were sealed. “At 7:00 the ballot box was unsealed and a vote taken with the following results, 13 ayes and 130 against Rev. McDougall remaining as pastor.”
Presbytery requires Rev. McDougall and the Session to resign following the election of a new Board of Elders.
Annual meeting followed by a “church meeting”. Rev. McDougall and the elders resign as required by Presbytery. Elders L. W. Capen, M. L. Moore, H. Richardson, and P. Y. Stewart resign following the election of 4 new elders for two-year terms. New elders: O. A. Shaw, J. W. Compton, T. A. Baller, and E. B. Ellis. (minutes)
J. W. Compton, Clerk of Session
Rev. John McLean, Pastor of 1 st Presbyterian Church is invited to be moderator. Elders Compton and Shaw appointed a Committee on Supply for the Pulpit.
Church meeting to consider proposition from the Old School Presbyterian Church of this city for a union with this church. Votes: 17 ayes, 40 nays, 2 blanks.
Session calls for a meeting of “this church and congregation held in this house” on April 11 to take action on candidates for the future supply of the pulpit.
Congregational meeting. Supply of the Pulpit vote is Rev. Dinsmore-55, Rev. Brooks-11, Blank-3.
Old School and New School branches of the Presbyterian Church are united by General Assembly
Session votes to extend call to Rev. John W. Dinsmore, Prairie du Sac, Wisconsin to occupy the pulpit for one year at a salary of $2,000 per annum.
Rev. John Dinsmore delivers his first sermon as Stated Supply Pastor.
Congregation approves resolution, “Whereas, the two great branches of the Presbyterian Church in this Country have been happily united, and it is contrary to the declared policy of the General Assembly, and to the spirit of Christian Union to perpetuate the old division in places where the interests of Christ’s cause demand the consolidation of individual churches for their mutual good, and Whereas, a committee appointed by this Church at a previous meeting to confer with the representatives of the so called Old School Church of this City with a view to a union of the two churches have reported that in their opinion the way is clear to the union of these Churches, and that the Cause of Christ, and especially the interests of Presbyterianism in this City, demand this consolidation. Therefore– resolved by the Second Presbyterian Church of Bloomington, that We are ready and willing to receive into union with us, the so called Old School Church of this City, as soon as the necessary arrangements can be perfected, provided said church can come to us without any pecuniary or other encumbrance.” Messrs. Robinson, Capen, and Compton appointed to acquaint the Old School Church of this action.
Dr. William Marquis, Seminarian
Parsonage is built north of the church.
Trustees may declare a pew “vacant” if payment is delinquent beyond six months.
24 members of First Presbyterian Church (Old School) transfer their membership to “Second Presbyterian” as it was informally called, including Adlai E. Stevenson and Sarah Withers
F. A. Baller offered organist position at $250 per annum and pew rental.
Rev. John Dinsmore is installed as the first Installed Pastor. He serves 21 years.
Parsonage is completed at cost of $3,000.
Former elders are reelected: L. W. Capen, M. L. Moore and H. Richardson. “Owing to an alarm of fire, the meeting dispersed without any formal adjournment.”
On the first Sabbath of every month the evening service is devoted exclusively to children.
Rev. Dinsmore is “instructed to endeavor to secure the cooperation of the other church’s to secure the services of Mr. Hammond, the Evangelist, in our city for a time.”
125 people join following the revival meeting in Durley Hall by Rev. Mr. Hammond. This group includes J. Dickey Templeton, an active elder and initiator of many mission activities, Chalmers C. Marquis, Mary Pease, mother of missionaries, and five Fitzwilliams.
Proposal to sell the church and move to a new location is defeated.
Judge John M. Scott elected chairman of congregational meeting.