CHAPTER X. The Roanoke Baptist Church.
At a regular covenant meeting of the Richland Baptist church on April 12th, 1865, letters of dismissal were asked for by thirty of its members to form a new church on the prairie to be known as the Roanoke Baptist church, and, after due deliberation, were granted to the following members: E. A. Fisher, Amelia Fisher, Thomas Marshall, Martha Marshall, M. L. Fuller, Jr., Anna Fuller, Elder M. L. Fuller, Albert H. Fuller, Elvira B. Fuller, Myron A. Fuller, Stillman Fuller, George B. Fuller, Milo E. Fuller, Elijah R. Marshall, Martha S. Marshall, Cyrus R. Marshall, Elvira Marshall, Virginia Lamb, James Hewitt, Martha Hewitt, Rosina Terry, Josiah Rogers, Miranda M. Arnold, Samuel Butterfield, Mary Butterfield, Charles Avery, Angelina Hall, Georgia Smith, William Lamb.
On June 5th, a council was held for the purpose of organizing a Baptist church composed of the names just given. They met at the school house four miles northeast of Metamora, the following churches sending delegates: Metamora, Elder Graham and P. A. Coen; Richland, Deacon Hammers and Abner Mundell; Washburn, Elder S. S. Robinson, and Elder Vaugan of Lacon, being present was invited to sit in council with them. Elder Graham was chosen moderator and P. A. Coen clerk. After hearing the request to organize a Baptist church, and being convinced that they were able to sustain a church, the council voted to proceed with the organization exercises as follows: Reading of the scriptures, Rev. S. S. Robinson; prayer, P. A. Coen; sermon, Elder Vaugan; recognition prayer, Elder S. S. Robinson; address to the church and hand of fellowship, Elder Ira Graham; P. A. Coen, clerk. E. A. Fisher was elected the first deacon and held the office until he moved to Kansas, and Myron Fuller was the first clerk. On June 13th, 1865, the following brethren were chosen as trustees, E. A. Fisher, E. R. Marshall and M. L. Fuller, Jr. March 31st, 1866, Elder S. S. Robinson became pastor half time, and in January of the following year the church secured his services full time. He continued as pastor until March 1st, 1869. On September 12th, 1865, the church was received into the Illinois River Baptist Association, meeting that year with the El Paso church. On June 13th, 1865, at a meeting held at the school house near Elder M. L. Fuller's, it was decided to build a church one mile south and one mile west, the church being built by Smith, a contractor from Washington. It was dedicated August 22nd, i856, the following brethren taking part: Scripture reading, Elder M. L. Fuller; sermon, Rev. C. D. Merrit; prayer, Rev. S. S. Robinson, pastor. On March 21st, 1869, a call was extended to Elder W. E. James to become pastor, he to preach one half time, which was accepted. He continued to serve as pastor until November 29th, 1870. Elder J. W. Berry was the next pastor, serving the church one half time, dividing with Metamora, from Nov. 19th, 1870, until Nov. 1st, 1872. On May 3rd, the church called Brother I. W. Read to become its pastor and on the 15th of May the church met for the purpose of arranging for the ordination, of Brother I. W. Read and to call a council of the following churches: Richland, Washburn, Belle Plain, Meridian, Minonk, Clayton, Panola and Metamora and the following brethren, Elder Wm. Parker, S. S. Robinson, J. M. Berry, M. L. Fuller and F. Ketchem.
June 19th, 1872, in accordance with the call of the church for the ordaining of Brother 1 W. Read to the gospel ministry, the following churches sent delegates: Richland, Belle Plain, Minnnk, Clayton and El Paso, also M. L. Fuller, of Peoria count, and Elder Wm. Parker, of Richland. The meeting was called to order by Elder C. D. Merrit, and Rev. M. L. Fuller was chosen moderator and Brother James A. Hammers as clerk. After hearing his Christian experience and his call to the ministry and finding him sound in doctrine, the ordination exercises were as follows: Sermon, Elder C. D. Merrit; prayer, Elder M. L. Fuller; charge to candidate, Elder J. W. James; charge to the church, Elder William Parker; hand of fellowship, Elder G W. Read, brother of the candidate. On November 9th, a call of the Fairbury church was received for delegates to participate in the ordination of Brother J. C. Read, a brother of I. W. Read. The following brethren were appointed: Brother M L. Fuller, Jr. and Deacon E. A. Fisher. Elder Read continued to serve as pastor there until the summer of 1874 and on December 10th, 1874 the Roanoke Baptist church decided to call a council for the purpose of setting apart Brother J. C H. Read, a brother of 1. W. Read, to the gospel ministry. The following churches w^re invited to send delegates: Belle Plain, Clayton, Washington, Washburn and Cazenovia, and Rev. W. Parker. The council convened by electing W. E. James as moderator and Joseph Plank, clerk. Having examined him in regard to church doctrine and finding him satisfactory the ordination proceeded as follows: Ordination sermon and prayer, Elder W. E. James; charge to candidate and right hand of fellowship, Elder W. Parker: charge to the church, Elder A. B. Tomlinson. Elder J. C. H. Read served as pastor of the Roanoke church from about June 26th, 1875 to February 5th, 1876. On May 27th, 1876 a call was extended to Rev. David Fielding to become pastor for one year but owing to failing health he was compelled to resign July 22nd, 1876. After Brother Fielding the church again secured Rev. J. C. H. Read, he served as pastor from September 16th, 1876 until June 21st, 1877. April 5th, 1876 a call was extended to Brother Wood, a student at Morgan Park, to serve six months and on December 31st, 1879, Deacon Fisher reported that he had secured Brother Wood to preach every Sunday afternoon for $3.00 a Sunday. Brother A. H. Wilson commenced his labors as pastor August 21st, 1880, preaching every Sunday afternoon until January 21st, 1882. A call was extended to Brother J. J. Gorham to preach every two weeks in the afternoon until April 1st. On November 9th, 1879, Brother M. L. Fuller, Jr., and A. F. Marshall were sent as delegates to the ordination of Brother George E. Dye, of the Clayton Baptist church.
At a meeting of the church held on the fifth day of August, 1882, the following brethren, Deacon E. A. Fisher and A.F. Marshall were chosen to sit in council with the Baptist church at Washburn for the purpose of ordaining Elder J. J. Gorham to the gospel ministry. The church having been without a pastor for some time a call was extended to Elder J, W. Coffman for one year. He remained until January 4th, 1884, and on November 5th, 1885, the church extended a call to Brother A. Gregory to become pastor, and on January 17th, 1886, at a meeting of the church Deacon E. A. Fisher and Brother A. F. Marshall were appointed as delegates to sit in council called by the Cazenovia Baptist church to ordain Rev. A. Gregory to the gospel ministry. He served the church as pastor until September 1887. At a covenant and business meeting, the pastor and two brethren were appointed to sit in council at the Clayton Baptist church to ordain Brother J. W. Neyman to the gospel ministry. Deacon E. A. Fisher and Brother W. H. Peard were appointed as such committee. On September 25th, 1887, the church called Brother M. M. Lewis to preach every Sunday morning. He served as pastor until September 1889. On the 12th day of October 1889, Brother Booth, a student of Chicago University, became pastor. He remained two years. After the resignation of Brother T. W. Booth, Elder Young supplied the church for a while and about March 12th, 1892, Elder E. C. Cady commenced to preach. Just how long he remained the records do not show. On October 8th, 1892, the church sent as delegates, Deacon J. T. Peard and wife, to sit in council at Minonk to ordain Brother Fuller Swift to the gospel ministry.
In October 1892, perhaps one of the greatest events in the history of the Roanoke Baptist church was the farewell for Brother and Sister Young, just before their departure tor the foreign field. It was certainly a red letter day for the Roanoke Baptist church. The following pastors took part in the exercises: Brother J. W. Tanner, of Normal; Rev. W. B. Riley, of Bloomington, and Rev. Fuller Swift, of Minonk. At the close of the exercises Sister Young was baptized, she having formerly been a member of the Presbyterian church.
On October 14th, 1893, Elder Henick commenced his labors as pastor, serving until November 10th, 1894, when the church called Brother Anderson to preach every other Sunday during the school year, while he was attending Chicago University, and every Sunday during the vacation. Elder J. F. Sparks was the last pastor, commencing his labors November 9th, 189?, and remaining for two years. The church was sold during the year 1904 for £300 to the Mennonites and the money turned over to the Bloomington Baptist Association.