GIBSON CITY — Fifteen years after moving to a facility on Illinois 47, the Gibson City Bible Church has made its last mortgage payment on the building and is celebrating that fact.
On Sunday, the congregation is hosting a celebratory lunch and concert in honor of its ministry work with its current building, which has served not just church members but also children’s ministries and community events.
“We paid (the mortgage) off early, and we had anticipated that we would have a balloon payment at the end of our regular payment period,” the Rev. Paul Thomason said, “so we were considering refinancing that balloon payment, but we got it done significantly sooner than we thought.”
The 26,000-square-foot facility opened in December 2003 and was officially dedicated in 2004. The church previously had a 10-year celebration in 2014 to observe a decade of ministry on the west side of Gibson City, and Thomason said Sunday’s celebration will be similar.
Tim Zimmerman and the King’s Brass, an international touring group, will perform a free concert in the afternoon inside a tent on the church grounds. The group will also play at the regular worship service at 10:20 a.m. The King’s Brass has performed several times in Gibson City before, the last in 2017.
A fried chicken lunch will be provided and games will be set up for children, providing fun for all ages.
The church’s facility includes a multipurpose room used for church services and also as an activity center. The church’s Wednesday night children’s program uses the facility as a gym, and the space is used for basketball games on Monday and Tuesday nights.
In addition, the building has Sunday school rooms for each grade level of youth; middle school and high school Sunday school spaces; and a nursery for babies and toddlers. A library is also located inside, as well as a cafe and lobby that can be used for event gatherings.
The Gibson City-Melvin-Sibley school district has designated the church as its emergency location along with local nursing homes. In 2014, GCMS High School held classes in the building for three days because of water problems at the school.
The church’s administrative assistant, Bonnie Arends, estimated that the high school uses the church five times a year, “and that’s if nothing goes wrong.” Farm Safety Day activities, SAT testing and student in-service events are held there, and the church is the permanent site of the high school’s baccalaureate and the annual community “Messiah” performance in December.
“People would be surprised how often the building’s actually occupied for events, and that’s the way we wanted,” Thomason said. “It’s a tool to invest in the Kingdom, the community and to the Lord, and it’s done that.”
The current building replaced the Gibson City Bible Church’s original home at 301 S. Melvin St., which is now the site of the Gibson City Pentecostal Church. The Gibson City Bible Church had exhausted its building space there and the church had purchased property around the church there and used modular classrooms, but the church eventually decided to move across town.
A six-member team finalized plans after congregational input, and the building was dedicated eight years after the process began.
“We were scrambling to move here when they told us,” Thomason said. “We had projected March (2004), and suddenly we were telling people we were moving in November (2003), so we had to line up everything to transport over here and we had to buy furniture. A lot of I’s were dotted and T’s were crossed to move into this building.”
A recent addition to the church grounds is a wildflower patch that was planted four years ago. Many people have used the outdoor area for photography sessions.
Overall, Thomason said the building has held up well and he hopes it will continue to serve its purpose for the congregation. He thanked the church’s members for their giving to the financial needs.
“I’m humbled by the generosity of people,” Thomason said. “For some, it was a real sacrifice, and I recognize that. It’s not the end; it’s just a beginning. The building has held up extremely well.”