Our story truly begins in the heart of a pastor some thirty miles away. Several years ago, while I was working as assistant pastor in my home church, God began to work in my heart to prepare me to start a church. I remember very clearly riding home with Pastor Fritz (my Pastor in Amboy) from meetings in Geneseo, when he commented that Princeton really needed an Independent Baptist church. That comment would be a seed that would grow in both mine and my pastor’s heart over the next several years.
In 2005, Pastor Fritz began to share with me that he felt God was leading him to start a church. As he prayed and sought counsel, he concluded that God wanted him to start a church without leaving the church in Amboy. During our church missions conference in November, he presented to our church the burden that God had given to him to plant churches in neighboring communities. We set our sights on Princeton, IL, and continued to seek God’s guidance. Pastor James Beller, the missions conference speaker, and his study on Baptist influence in America was a great inspiration and encouragement to us.
As Pastor Fritz points out in telling the story, “Our largest obstacles seemed to be the time and finances necessary to accomplish the project. We learned again that nothing is impossible for God.” God provided a place to meet for free (the Prouty Building) and Sunday afternoon Bible Studies were started March 19, 2006 at 2:00 in the afternoon.
On July 7, 2007, we began Sunday morning services in Princeton. Interest began to grow and on September 30, 2007 the “Heritage Baptist Meetings” became the “Heritage Baptist Church” of Princeton. I was elected to be the pastor and was formally ordained by First Baptist Church of Amboy on November 11, 2007. In December our infant church was enabled by God to purchase an old church building which is our current home at 818 N. Church St.
After a very difficult 3rd year, our 3rd Anniversary was richly blessed by God and we saw a few people converted on the Anniversary Sunday and the revival meetings that followed (one of those saved would be in heaven within 6 months).
Then 2011 was our year of miracles. In the first few months of we baptized more than we had baptized the first 3 years combined. We held our first VBS hoping that we might reach 20 young people. We had 20 the first night and 45 by end of week and our bus ministry was born. The problem was that we had no children’s church program, no bus of our own! We had borrowed an old bus from the church in Amboy and after hearing our predicament, they gave us the bus. Shortly thereafter, our mortgage was unexpectedly paid off by a gift of over $47,000! We went on to buy the house next door to the church that is now our Education Annex. In 2014 Heritage Baptist School was started and we continue to invest in young lives through this vital ministry.
Over the last several years God has richly blessed in many ways and is obviously putting together a church with the components He knows we need…as He promised in Matthew 16:18 “I will build my church.”