Church History

Welcome to Second Baptist Church of Elgin. We are delighted to have you join us for Sunday morning worship at 8:00 am or 10:30 am. Sunday school starts at 9:30 am and our Wednesday Bible Study is at Noon and 7:00 pm. Come worship the Lord with us. See you soon.

During the Civil War, on October 15, 1862, Rev. Benjamin Thomas of the First Baptist Church brought to Elgin, IL about 125 escaped slaves from plantations in Franklin County, AL. Mostly women and children; they fled behind the lines of the Union Army. This group of refugees, joined later by husbands and fathers, established the African-American community of Elgin and formed the nucleus of Second Baptist Church. Worship first took the form of camp meetings at Colby’s Grove, east of Elgin Academy. Informal services of prayers and songs took place at the home of Arthur Newsome, then located at 268 Ann St. Rev. Adoniram J. Joslyn and Harriett Cheney of First Baptist Church provided assistance. Second Baptist Church was formally organized on December 2, 1866, with John Ford, Arthur Newsome and Peter Newsome serving as trustees. Its first African- American minister was Rev. Richard DeBaptiste of Chicago, IL, who served as pastor two or three years prior to his death in 1901.

Born free in Ohio, he came to Elgin to preach at the new church and baptized many of the members. In the early days, even during the winter, baptisms were conducted in the Fox River. Those who had accepted Jesus Christ as their personal Savior were completely immersed in the flowing water at the climax of the ceremony. These practices were in accordance to the doctrine of the church and the teachings of the Holy Scriptures. The first church building was a frame structure on Center St. facing Barclay Park, at which time Rev. R. M. Smith was the pastor. The church also served as a segregated “colored” school. Later, a portion of the church moved to Dundee Ave. and remained there until March 28, 1875, when it was destroyed by fire. Services were then held in City Hall until a new brick structure was erected circa 1876, on the northwest corner of Dundee Ave. and Kimball St. For years this new building served as a meeting place and social center for the African-American community.

At this time only two of the original members were living, Mrs. Mary Wheeler and Mrs. Ann Bosley and church membership was 55. Newsome Park now rests on this site and was named in honor of the Newsome brothers who were among the church organizers. On the second Sunday in May 1938, Rev. L. J. Jefferson was called to Second Baptist Church to pastor the small membership and served until 1961. Rev. and Mrs. Jefferson traveled from Evanston to Elgin even when there were hardly enough members to carry on the services. As the years passed, the membership grew. Three other pastors served prior to Pastor Jefferson, Rev. H. B. McWilliams, Rev. Bellamy and Rev. Singleterry. Deacons included Jefferson Ford, Cletus Wainewright and Daniel Broadnax, Sr., with the latter two deacons also serving as members of the Building Committee. In 1953, with a membership of 150, the church had a “facelift.” The foundation was replaced, all windows were repaired and tuck-pointed, and the building was painted at the cost of approximately $3,000. At that time, the Building Committee consisted of Rev. Jefferson, Daniel Broadnax, Sr., Cletus Wainewright, Sherman Hunter, Elijah Smith, Viola Wheeler, and Mayme Steele, the mother of church member Earle Smith.

By 1959 the church had grown in membership and the building and its contents were rapidly depreciating. Viola Wheeler reported that the Church of the Nazarene was for sale. The building was located at 280 Franklin Blvd. Rev. Jefferson, along with the Deacon Board and members, appointed a Trustee Board to negotiate the purchase of this property. Because of Rev. Jefferson’s illness, business procedures were at a standstill, and he decided to appoint a promoter and assistant, Rev. Robert Clingman. Subsequently, on May 1, 1961, after struggling and toiling, the members of Second Baptist Church marched into their new house of worship on Franklin Blvd.

On October 4, 1962, Rev. Theodore E. Bedford was called to serve as pastor of Second Baptist Church. Under his leadership, the following events transpired:

The mortgage was burned on November 22, 1970.

In 1975, with Jerry Randle serving as chairman of the Trustee Board, the church was completely remodeled.
On November 21, 1984, Rev. Shirley A. Roberts was licensed as a minister of the gospel, and was subsequently ordained on September 29, 1991. She became the first female minister in the history of the church, and the first African American female to be licensed and ordained in ministry in the City of Elgin.

In 1984, following Pastor Bedford’s vision from the Lord to move from the present location and build a new edifice, land was purchased on Summit St. (Route 58) in Elgin. This site became the location where the new edifice would be built. Later that year, the newly purchased property was annexed into the City of Elgin.
The Christian Board of Education was established in 1984.

In 1988, the Soup Kitchen began serving the homeless at 280 Franklin Blvd. every Friday from March through December.
In 1989, the church on Franklin Blvd. was sold and Second Baptist Church joined a coalition of churches serving the homeless at Holy Trinity Church. Second Baptist selected the third Friday of the month as their day of service.
On July 30, 1989, a groundbreaking service was held. Among the guests were hosts of civic and church representatives, including Elgin Mayor George Van De Voorde in his first groundbreaking ceremony.

On August 19, 1990, the official street address for Second Baptist Church became 1280 Summit St., Elgin, IL, 60120. A dedication service was held as the members marched into their new edifice. With the move to Summit St. came a significant increase in membership and in ministry as God had promised Pastor Bedford.

In 1991, as the church’s 125th Anniversary was celebrated, commemorative vehicle stickers for the City of Elgin were printed. The stickers bore the picture of the church with the caption, “Mighty as an Oak Tree,” symbolizing how the church had stood firm in faith and in its commitment to Christianity.
In 1996, the new cornerstone was installed.
In January 1997, the Library was opened.

On December 31, 1998, after more than 35 years of dedicated service, Pastor Bedford retired from the active pastorate, and the honor of Pastor Emeritus was conferred upon him on January 1, 1999. Pastor Bedford became the first pastor of the church to receive this title.

With the retirement of Pastor Bedford, the leadership of the church fell into the hands of the Deacon Board Chairman Mitchell McCutchen. The ministry of the Word was not neglected, as the associate ministers of the church, Rev. Shirley A. Roberts, Rev. Freddie L. Rogers, Rev. Nathaniel L Edmond, and Rev. Scot Clark, continued to preach the gospel so that the sheep of God might be fed. The congregation continued to grow.

With the pulpit vacated, the process to elect a new pastor began in April 1999. As the new millennium began, a pastoral election was held on January 23, 2000. Rev. Nathaniel L. Edmond, who was then serving as an associate minister, became the pastor elect. Subsequently, he was installed as pastor on February 20, 2000.

Under Pastor Edmond, the church experienced a tremendous growth. The nursery was refurbished and re-opened in May 2000; a Young Adult Ministry was established; and the first “Wonderful Wednesday” mid-week service commenced on February 7, 2001. With the growth of the membership came the need to expand the parking lot. A loan was secured and the expansion was completed in October 2001. Through the blessings of God, the loan was paid off in only five months. To commemorate this blessing, a tree was planted in April 2002.

Additionally, under Pastor Edmond’s leadership, a second Sunday morning worship service at 8:00 a.m. began in June 2002; the church web site was developed and launched in July 2002.

U.S. Senate Candidate Barack Obama D-Chicago and current United States of America 44th President visited Second Baptist Church on May 11, 2003. His campaign slogan was “A chance to believe again.” Embarking on a grass-roots campaign to build support in the state, State Senator Obama visited the church to introduce himself to the community and to field questions from potential voters.

The Public Relations Ministry began in January 2003; the Prison Ministry began in February 2003; a bus was purchased to support the implementation of the Bus Ministry, which began in April 2003; and a street ministry entitled “Operation Joshua” began in October 2003.

Five associate ministers and five deacons were ordained in May 2004. The Nathaniel L. Edmond Oratorical Contest and the Divine Arts Ministry were established in June 2004.In September 2004, a new Couples Ministry (Couples United to Produces Success) began.

In January 2005, a new Information Technology (IT) ministry was launched, to support the growing technological needs of the church.

On March 6, 2005, a groundbreaking ceremony was held after the 10:30 a.m. worship service symbolizing the church’s plans to add a 20,000 square foot multipurpose building. Special guests included Elgin Mayor Ed Schock, Elgin City Manager Femi Folarin and Elgin City Councilwoman and Second Baptist Church member Brenda Rodgers. The 20,000 square foot addition included eight classrooms, a nursery, a welcome center and a recreation and performance auditorium.

On July 6, 2005, Second Baptist Church hosted its inaugural noonday Bible Study, which is held on Wednesdays from 12:00 to 1:00 pm. In August 2005, devastation from a massive natural disaster struck the country’s gulf coast region. Second Baptist Church and its members rallied to aid the families affected by Hurricane Katrina by donating funds to help them re-establish themselves. The church also expressed its compassion by adopting survivors who relocated to the area.

The church began a partnership with Sheridan Elementary School on January 9, 2006 with 24 trained volunteers who serve as mentors and tutors to 45 students identified as “at-risk.” Our Young Adult Sunday school class for ages 18-24 was reinstituted on February 12, 2006. On February 18, 2006, the church celebrated the grand opening of our multipurpose building. According to Rev. Edmond, the building is another opportunity for God to enlarge our territory in doing ministry.

Children’s Church began on March 5, 2006. The purpose was to address the spiritual growth of our children by providing a service designed to meet the needs of young children ages 6 – 12 under the leadership of the associate ministers and guidance of Rev. Edmond.

“We thank God for what he has done for us and we thank God for the privilege to share with our community. When God has blessed you, you celebrate by giving,” stated Second Baptist Church Pastor Nathaniel L. Edmond as the fellowship also celebrated the church’s 140th Anniversary on July 23, 2006. As a symbol of faithfulness to God, the church made contributions totaling $9,500 to Elgin area agencies including Judson College, Bethesda Church of God Development Center, the Dominican Republic Ministries, and the Boys & Girls Club of Elgin. Additionally, three new associate ministers and five new deacons were ordained on this day.

On September 16, 2006, the Library Ministry hosted the third session of the Justice R. Eugene Pincham Continuing American Dilemma Lecture Series, sponsored by the Chicago Friends of The Amistad Research Center. The Honorable Judge Pincham was the lecturer and the Honorable Judge F. Keith Brown of Kane County was the designated respondent to the lecture. Dr. Risé D. Jones sang a heart-stirring rendition of the Negro Anthem, Lift Ev’ry Voice and Sing.

Associate Minister Rev. Clemon McCullough became the first minister of the Children’s Church on October 1, 2006.

The first annual Women’s Conference was held October 13-15, 2006, reflecting the theme, “Christian Women Breaking New Ground.” Over 100 women were registered and in attendance. Topics included health and nutrition, self-esteem issues, communicating effectively, personal financial management, and spiritual healing.

In October 2006, Pastor Edmond, along with First Lady Christine Edmond, traveled to Africa as a part of a World Vision International missionary trip. With visits to Kenya and Tanzania, they witnessed firsthand the devastating effects that AIDS/HIV had caused in these countries. In Tanzania, they had the opportunity to meet two of the children the church has sponsored: Musa, a boy; and Mbaude, a girl. Upon their return from Africa, Pastor Edmond published his personal, daily journal entitled, “A Journey to Africa: A Mission of Outreach.”

In February 2007, in a continued effort to support the activities of World Vision, members of the congregation pledged ongoing monetary support for 132 Tanzanian children.

In the spring of 2007, an evangelism campaign began with the training of church members. This training culminated with two visits to a local housing complex in April and June. Evangelism continues to be a focus of the church’s outreach and service activities.

In June 2007, the Youth Ministry hosted the first Senior Recognition Program, to celebrate the academic achievements of seven graduating high school seniors.

In July 2007, in recognition of the 141st church anniversary, contributions totaling $3,500 were given to the following organizations: Bethesda Child Care Center; the Boys and Girls Club of Elgin; Judson University, for the Harm A. Weber Academic Center; and Riverwoods Christian Center.

In August 2007, Pastor Edmond was selected to Sherman Hospital’s Board of Directors. Although other African-Americans have served on the board, he is the first African-American with voting privileges.

The second annual Women’s Conference was held October 12 – 14, 2007, featuring theme “We’re Better Than That!” The conference had phenomenal growth and featured youth-centered workshops.

Second Baptist Church contributed $10,000 and collaborated with LaSalle Street Church of Chicago to build a duplex to provide teacher housing in Kisongo, Tanzania. The building was completed in April 2008.

In 2007, the Sheridan School Partnership was expanded to include Larsen Middle School, and subsequently the ministry was renamed the SBC School Partnerships. On January 19, 2008, the ministry received the M.L.K. Humanitarian Award from the City of Elgin. They also received the Alpha Kappa Alpha Award for Volunteerism in the spring of 2008.

In February of 2008, the Deacon Ministry chartered an ad-hoc committee to conduct a comprehensive review of the church constitution and to make recommendations for updates subject to ratification by the church body. The intent was to incorporate relevant administrative and operational changes that have occurred as a direct result of the ongoing growth in the size of the congregation and church ministries since the church constitution was last amended in September, 1997.

In 2008, the evangelism campaign became a ministry, and the second Evangelism conference was held. Outreach continues at Clifford Court, and recent activities have included a series of computer training classes.

In March 14, 2008, the church received the Community Improvement Program (CIP) Renovation Award from The Elgin Courier and the Elgin Area Chamber of Commerce. The award was given for architectural design enhancements, including the construction of the multipurpose 20,000 square foot addition.

In May 2008 due to a surge in church membership and a sustained increase in attendance, the 10:30 am worship service was moved into the multipurpose center. Over the remainder of the year the multipurpose center underwent extensive retrofitting to enhance the acoustics and the overall worship environment and experience.

In October a spiritually charged, invigorating third annual Women’s Conference “High Heels, High Hopes, High Calling” was held. The Conference theme was based on Phillipians 3:14, “I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling.”

Pastor and Sister Edmond joined the Illinois Commission on Diversity and Human Relations along with a group of Chicagoland Pastors on a trip to Israel as “Peace Ambassadors .” They spent 8 days in the Holy Land visiting historically significant and sacred sites related to Jesus’ ministry on earth.

Mother Laverne Johnson — 1905 -2011

Second Baptist Church Centenarian, Mother Laverne Johnson, born on October 20, 1905, celebrated her 102 birthday with a party hosted by the Library Ministry and attended by Church family and friends. The program included a serenade by the SBC Male Chorus, special reflections and testimonies in tribute to Mother Johnson. Born in Tiptonville, TN. Mother Johnson and her late husband Brother Hershel Johnson joined Second Baptist Church of Elgin in 1947 under the leadership of Rev. L.J. Jefferson.

On Saturday, November 5, 2011, Mother Laverne Johnson at the age of 106, quietly went home to be with the Lord. Well done good and faithful servant.

The SBC SAFE ministry was officially launched on October 28, 2008. Anchored by Psalm 4:8 “I will lie down and sleep in peace, for You alone, O Lord make me dwell in safety,” the SAFE (Standing Against abuse for Everyone: Walking in Victory) ministry is committed to breaking the generational cycle of domestic violence by providing a Christ-centered approach to supporting and empowering women and children who are confronting the issue of domestic violence in their lives. SAFE provides confidentiality, safety, counseling, education, support groups and referrals for abused women and their children.

February 2010, “A Pastor with a Vision.” was the theme as Second Baptist Church celebrated the 10th Anniversary of Pastor Nathaniel L. Edmond and First Lady Christine D. Edmond. Each member of the thirty-three Second Baptist ministries, Church Officers and Associate Ministers presented videotaped greetings to the Pastor and First Lady.

In May 2010, in an effort to enhance communication with our membership base and expand our voice in the community, Second Baptist church launched a church Facebook page.

In August 2010, the Summit Street Legacy Capital Campaign concluded with the purchase of the adjacent nine acres of property east of the church. A ribbon cutting ceremony was held after 10:30 AM Worship Service as the fellowship thanked God for enlarging our territories.

In December 2010, School District U-46 and its African American Advisory Council hosted the first annual African American Family Education Summit at Second Baptist Church. The purpose of the summit was to galvanize the African American community to develop a plan of action to address the academic challenges and achievement gaps affecting African American students.

On December 11, 2010, Judson University of Elgin, IL bestowed an Honorary Doctorate of Sacred Theology on Second Baptist Pastor Nathaniel L. Edmond. Pastor Edmond also delivered the commencement address for Judson University’s 63rd Bi-annual commencement.

On Wednesday, April 13, 2011, Judson University held their Inaugural World Leadership Forum. Rev. Dr. Nathaniel L. Edmond, had the esteemed honor of opening the event and welcoming former United States of America 43rd President George W. Bush as the keynote speaker.

May 2011, The Young Adult Ministry in conjunction with the Youth Ministry hosted a Hip Hop Summit Street Revival. The purpose of the revival was to demonstrate the negative impact certain music genres have on society. In addition to expose to the youth how popular songs are in direct conflict with who we are as Christians.

God has truly and abundantly blessed this fellowship. By His grace, the church continues to bring forth the Word of God and to expand its community outreach efforts, in order to remain a viable member of the Elgin community.

In February of 2012, Second Baptist Church launched The Empowerment Ministry. This ministry is being established to provide Christian based support, encouragement and relationship building opportunities for career development and networking. In addition, the Beautification Ministry was created to edify the interior of the church, through the art of design and interior decoration.

In May of 2012, the construction of a new church parking lot, additional landscaping and a drainage pond, were completed on land purchased in 2010. In June, the Brotherhood Ministry enhanced the aesthetic value of the property by the removal of trees and dense foliage.

The League of Military Veterans Ministry was launched in June of 2012, to support and honor church members of active, retired and prior military service veterans and their families for their service and selfless contributions.

In September, 2013, after a tenure of 12 years, Brother London Bradley retired as Director of the Christian Board of Education. Dr. Barbara Bonner was named his successor.

The Single Ministry was launched in November, 2013, to foster community and individual wholeness, through a healthy and thriving relationship with God.

In February, 2013, “Jesus” The Greatest Leadership Role Model was the title of the seventh annual Leadership Workshop hosted by Second Baptist and lead by Rev. Lionel Sweeny.

On Saturday, June 8, 2013, the Youth Ministry of Second Baptist Church hosted their sixth annual Senior Recognition Program in honor of the Class of 2013 graduating seniors. Eighteen graduates participated in this program, constituting the largest class of seniors to date.

We are grateful to God for His faithfulness and unwavering love. Today, we thank him for blessing this church for 147 years. What were once bright lights of hope are now fulfilled promises, and the best is yet to come! Today and always we offer to Him the sacrifice of praise.