Located by the campus of Illinois State University, we are home to the United Methodist Wesley Foundation (MERGE) campus ministry. However, we are more than a campus church. We are people of God serving the entire community with ministries that touch individuals of all ages and from many walks of life as we seek to fulfill the vision of the United Methodist Church of "Open Hearts, Open Minds, Open Doors."
Individuals from many different backgrounds, and with very different life journeys, have experienced the love of God here and made this their church home. We hope that you may discover ministries in this caring and lively congregation that will both meet your needs and provide opportunities for you to be in ministry both in the church and through its outreach.
We envision being transformed by God and transforming the world into a compassionate, just, inclusive, Christ-like community.
On September 5, 1865 six men met at the home of A.C. Mason and elected a Board of Trustees for the
church. The following week, a President and Secretary were elected, and the next week, on September
20th, the Illinois Conference of the Methodist Episcopal Church was addressed by the President of
ISNU. President Richard Edwards, (Presbyterian), urged them strongly that a Methodist
Church was needed in the village to accommodate the many Methodist students who attended the
University. The Conference approved and combined the Twin Grove church and the new Normal church
into the Normal Circuit. The Reverend C.D. Jones was appointed pastor.
The village was settled in 1854 and simply called "The Junction" for several years. Also for a while it was
referred to as "North Bloomington." In 1865, the name Normal was given named for the University
connection. On September 30, 1865 the village leaders voted to incorporate the town, and in February
of 1867, it was approved by the Illinois State Legislature.
Towards the end of 1865, our church, its community, its neighbor Bloomington, the State of Illinois and
all of the United States were still haunted by the assassination of President Lincoln the previous April — and
still suffering from four horrifying years of war. During the same days in which the Methodist Church
was organizing and the Town of Normal was incorporated, a September 30, 1865 article in The Pantagragh tells
of four Black soldiers who had come home that week to Bloomington. They were the only men
remaining of nearly a dozen who had answered the Union’s call three years prior. The article ends with
these words: "We suggest to our colored brethren get up a ball in honor of these heroes of Petersburg,
Ft Wagner and other hard fought battles."
Normal First United Methodist Church has been a downtown church since its founding in 1865. Our first
formal sanctuary was built and dedicated in 1867 at the corner of Fell Avenue and Ash Street (now
College Ave). In 1957, the church moved to its current location at 211 North School Street in the heart of
the campus of Illinois State University.
In 2015 we worked "One Church Under God" in celebrating 150 Years of Service to our Community, our Nation and our World.
We are a child and youth Safe Sanctuary Church.