Northminster Presbyterian Church, established in 1957, is located on the north side of Peoria. Our original 23,000 square foot building was completed in 1996. This section includes a beautiful octagonally-shaped sanctuary which seats 400, a Centrum, full-service kitchen, Fellowship Hall , nursery, offices, lounge, library, and education classrooms for both adults and youth. Since first building at this location we have added two wings and now have a facility of more than 70,000 square feet that includes a gymnasium, a preschool/after school care program, children's Sunday school rooms, chapel/multipurpose room, conference room and a dedicated music room. Our 34-acre outdoor site includes a playground, picnic shelter, nature/hiking trail, basketball court, sand volleyball pit, horse-shoe pit and a softball diamond.
Throughout the year, the congregation joins together to worship and acknowledge special holy events such as Ash Wednesday, Maundy Thursday, Easter, and Christmas. These unique services are especially meaningful for our members and visitors.
Our worship rituals are alive and interesting, steeped in history but never frozen in the past, enriched by tradition, yet at the same time always in tune with the times. There is a balance between rituals and spontaneity. The elements of worship are designed to be tools for the worshipper to use to express his or her praise, prayer and petition, enabling the worshipper to worship with authenticity and the Holy Spirit to transform our lives.
As the pace of change in our world continues to accelerate, we feel our church community will face increasing pressures on our family structure, values, and discipleship. The increased demands of work and travel requirements put a strain on our families. Single parent families and divorce continue to be a factor. Society tolerates and the media glorifies materialism, violence, and sexual promiscuity making it difficult to instill Christian values. We often become so busy with our lives that the concept of discipleship becomes lost.
Given this backdrop of change, coupled with the declining presence of Christian values in our society, it becomes even more important for a church to offer an environment that can provide stability. In the coming years, we want to continue to grow as a church and share the gospel. However, we must be able to attract and integrate new members to our church without losing our friendly and comfortable church environment that attracts people in the first place. We believe our small group programs promote deeper and stronger relationships between our members and visitors. Overall, we want to provide an environment where Christians come to worship and develop meaningful relationships with other Christians to strengthen our faith and discipleship for the glory of God.
Our Presbyterian Heritage
Who are the Presbyterians?
First: We are Christians, not Moslems, Hindus, Buddhists or Jews (the five major religions of the world) or pagans or atheists.
Second: We are Protestants, not Roman Catholics, Anglicans (Episcopalians) or Eastern Orthodox (the four major branches of Christianity)
Third: We are Presbyterian, not Methodist, Lutheran, or Baptist. We are one of the many Christian, Protestant denominations.
We are People who trace their spiritual heritage to John Calvin (1509-64). We emphasize the sovereignty of God. We enjoy our quest for the knowledge of God and God’s universe (thus education is important to us). Presbyterians look to the Scriptures and the confessions of the church for spiritual guidance and pray and work for God’s Kingdom to become a reality on earth ("thy Kingdom come on earth as it is in heaven", Jesus taught us to pray). We are committed to ecumenism, i.e., being part of the greater catholic church (the church universal.
Our most obvious distinguishing characteristic: We govern ourselves by democratically elected elders. The term Presbyterian is from the Greek word, "Presbyteros", which means "elder".
During an age of momentous change, the 15th and 16th centuries, shortly after the Renaissance, dissident church scholars like John Calvin worked to reform the church in accord with the Bible. Calvin and others like Martin Luther became leaders of the movement we know as the Reformation. They challenged the power of kings and the authority of the Holy Roman Empire. Their protests earned them the name of "Protestant". Calvin was based in Geneva and led the Reformed branch (Presbyterian) of the Protestant Reformation. Some tenants of the Reformed churches:
The authority of the scripture as opposed to church tradition in all matters of faith and personal conduct.
Salvation is by faith in Jesus Christ, not earned by "works of righteousness".
The community nature of the sacraments.
Renewed appreciation of human sinfulness ("original sin") and its consequences for the exercise of power.
Separation of church and state.
Rule of the church by elders.
The right of congregations to elect their own leadership (Calvin is sometimes called, "the father of democracy").
In 1559 John Knox returned to Scotland after having studied under Calvin in Geneva. After a mighty struggle with "Mary Queen of Scots" he established the Presbyterian Church as the Church of Scotland.
The first North American Presbyterian Churches were founded by English colonists on Long Island and in New England during the 1640s. Later waves of Scottish and Scotch-Irish immigrants established a Presbyterian presence in the New World strong enough to heavily influence the American struggle for independence. The British called it the "Presbyterian Revolt". Fourteen signers of the Declaration of Independence were Presbyterian. Rev. John Witherspoon, founder of "The College of Princeton" and mentor of James Madison, was the only clergyman to sign the Declaration.
Northminster Presbyterian Church became a member church of ECO: A Covenant Order of Evangelical Presbyterians on October 8, 2013. ECO is a new Presbyterian body, formed in January 2011. Its primary focus is on mission and evangelism. There are at least nine other Presbyterian denominations in America and six Reformed denominations with Presbyterian forms of government.
Presbyterian Church government is often called a "mixed" system of democratic and hierarchical elements, because power is balanced between clergy and laity and between congregations and larger governing bodies of the church. The members of Northminster elect their elders and deacons annually for three year terms, which are renewable once. Each year 1/3 of the elders and deacons are elected. Elders are the board of directors and are responsible for the spiritual welfare of the church. Deacons focus on ministries of compassion and care.
The History of the Bell
In the fall of 1974, shortly after Dr. Deckert assumed his position as pastor of Northminster Church, the Presbytery of Great Rivers announced that a small Presbyterian Church in Millersburg, north of Galesburg was closing, and the Presbytery was offering its fine bell for sale. The price was $75.00. But the buyer was responsible for removing it from the steeple. The offer was discussed, and Mary Huff, who has since moved to Sun City, AZ, purchased the bell. Mary also sent a $100.00 check to start the new bell tower fund, " That the Bell May Ring!" A group of men, including the late Walt Tempas, Joe Dean, John Henderson, Gene Wineland, Dick Dryden and Lowell Peterson measured, planned, grunted and groaned to remove the bell from its perch overlooking the Illinois Prairie and bring it to Peoria in the back of Walt's station wagon.
The bell was cast in bronze at the Van Dussen Bell Foundry in Cincinnati, Ohio in 1867, which makes the bell 134 years old this year and is said to weigh between six and eight hundred pounds. The story is that it was brought across the Illinois prairie in a wagon and ceremoniously placed in the Millersburg Church.
Northminster did not have a bell, and after all, every church needs a bell to ring out the announcement that the worship of God is about to begin! In 1976 the bell was moved into the fellowship hall of the old church and used to celebrate America's bicentennial on the 4th of July weekend. Shortly thereafter it was mounted in the steeple of the old church. When the ending of the Gulf war was announced, Dr. Deckert rang it for 20 minutes.
Today the bell is again mounted in a steel tower financed by the David and Sally Youngman family, as a memorial to " Our Parents: Charles PeterYoungman and his wife, Lillian (Carson). And, Robert Gordon Cook and his wife, Eleanor (Lampman), and our children: Peter Gordon, Mathew David and Daniel Alan." August the 3rd 1997, was the first ringing of the bell in its new location.
To further memorialize the dedication of the bell in its new bell tower, a time capsule has been installed under its base with various memorabilia from 1997 and is to be reopened on August 14, in the year 2050. It is hoped that some of the young people who wrote notes for the occasion will return for the opening of the time capsule.
May the clarion call of the bell gather us for the worship of Almighty God every Sunday!