Closed Paxton church to be deeded to Baptist foundation

PAXTON — A Southern Baptist church in Paxton that closed in February is in the process of being deeded to the Baptist Foundation of Illinois, which intends to find another church to use the building.

The First Baptist Church at 430 S. High St. on Paxton’s east side had been in operation for 65 years before it held its final service on Feb. 11, said Paxton resident Rex Roy, a church member and trustee.

At one point — back when Chanute Air Force Base was in operation in nearby Rantoul — the church had more than 200 members, Roy said. However, in recent years the membership had dwindled to the point there were only 16 “active” members at the time of its closure, Roy said.

The lack of members prompted the congregation to vote to close the church, which was founded in 1952, Roy said.

“In the 65 or 66 years that we’ve been here, there have been a lot of people who have benefitted greatly from being members and so forth, growing in their faith and seeing their families grow here,” Roy said. “Obviously, a lot of those families moved on for various reasons — moved out of town, out of state, that kind of thing — and we know there’s been some dwindling membership with some of the other churches, as well.

“But there’s been a lot of good transpire here and a lot of lives changed in the last 66 years. It’s just unfortunate we had to close, but we felt like that was the correct thing to do.”

In the next few weeks, Roy said he expects the church to complete the process of deeding the church property to the Baptist Foundation of Illinois, a corporation of the Illinois Baptist State Association (IBSA), which hopes to find another church to buy it.

“We’re certainly hoping that they will be able to do that and get it back going again,” Roy said.

Once the deed is transferred, the Baptist Foundation of Illinois will take over the church’s assets and establish a “legacy fund” in the church’s name, Roy said. The fund will contain all of the church’s assets, and it will collect any proceeds from the sale of the church property, Roy said. The money could then be used to help organizations that the church “wants to see helped,” Roy said, including a Baptist children’s home in Carmi, Ill.

“We have some liquid assets; we weren’t in a bind financially,” Roy noted. “We just had dwindled in membership to the point that we felt it was time for us to not be the ones running it anymore and actively involved in it, to where we could turn it over to somebody young and fresh and new who can make it grow again.”

Categories (2):News, Religion
Location (3):Local, Paxton, Ford County

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