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A Brief History of

First Presbyterian Church

As the first religious organization in Danville, the First Presbyterian Church dates back almost to the beginning of local history. Illinois became a state in 1818; VermilionCounty was organized in 1826; the village of Danville became the county seat in 1827; the First Presbyterian Church organized in 1829. Thus, the history is interwoven with the history of Danville.

The early settlers in the village of Danville had traveled great distances, often charting their own course through the wilderness and enduring great hardship. Many found comfort and strength in the Bible which they had carried throughout their perilous journey. They gathered together to pray, to sing humns, and to give thanks for God’s mercy and kindness.

The organization of the First Presbyterian Church was recorded as follows by the Session of the church:

 

Danville, Vermilion County, Illinois

March 7, 1829

At the close of public worship on Saturday, conducted by Rev. Samuel Baldridge, V.D.M. it was decided to organize a church and Dr. Asa R. Palmer, an elder from New York, was elected to office of ruling Elder, prayer and previous consultant being had March 7, 1829 Lord’s Day, after sermon by Dr. Baldridge, a church was culy organized under the style of the “Presbyterian Church of Danville,” composed of the persons: Asa R. Palmer, Mary Ann Alexander, Josiah Alexander, Solomon Gilbert, Submit Gilbert, Lucy Gilbert, Parmela Tomlinson. Asa R. Palmer was formally installed into the eldership over this church.

S. Baldrigge, V. D. M. Ministry.

The first Communion noted in the church records took place on May 5, 1829. Later that year, on September 20, the session was enlarged by the ordination of Josiah Alexander as an elder.

On the second Sunday in January 1831, Rev. Enoch Kingsbury became the church pastor. He served as pastor for twenty years, and for seven more years as supply pastor.

Rev. Kingsbury’s twenty-year pastorate was the most critical period in the history of the church. Everything was yet to be done in the way of building a town and establishing a church. Since Rev. Kingsbury proved to be admirably equipped for leadership under trying conditions, a kind of providence seems to have directed his steps to the village of Danville.

For nearly six years the congregation had no sanctuary and met in such places as could be procured. In the year 1835, a house 40 by 26 feet was erected at the expense of $1,200 for the double purpose of church meetings and school. In 1858, a larger church was erected on the corner of North and Franklin and then in 1891, the cornerstone was laid for our present church. Since then there have been renovations, additions, and reconstructions.

More recently the sanctuary, offices, restrooms have been renovated and decorated. The stained glass windows cleaned and repaired; the pipe organ repaired. The lighted parking lot has been beautifully landscaped with shrubs and flowers. The church is handicapped accessible and air conditioned.

Much gratitude is owed the many pastors, members, staff, custodial workers throughout the many years of the church’s existence. All have contributed to the life of the church; each in his/her own way.