Bloomington-Normal was the target city for two GTCA gospel trips in 2011 and 2012. Through migration and the fruits of the gospel, the Lord continued to increase in Normal, and in August 2013, the church in Normal was established.
Presently there are eleven adults and seven children meeting in Normal. In Peoria, IL, a city 40 miles to the west, there are seventeen adults and eleven children meeting. The saints in Normal and Peoria have much fellowship, coordination, and blending together, functioning like two districts of one church. The saints meet together twice each month on the Lord’s day in the saints’ homes or at the ISU campus. There is no meeting hall currently, but the saints’ homes are always open for fellowship, small group gatherings, and other church meetings.
Much of the church in Normal’s labor is on the ISU campus. Through one brother who works there full time, a campus club was established, and the saints have risen up to care for students through campus bible studies, club activities, and by opening their homes to them. In addition to the campus, there is also a strong burden to care for the children of the saints. In caring for the children, the Lord opened the door to reach out to other Christian families in Normal through a weekly Saturday afternoon small group they join. Also, there is a Bible camp each summer where 20 children of the saints and new families attend.
The saints in Peoria are seeking the Lord’s leading in how to re-establish a presence on the Bradley campus following the pandemic. However, during that period, the Lord blessed the families with many new children, resulting in a turn of the gospel burden toward the community. The saints are looking to the Lord to be connected to local families through neighborhood outreach and distribution events at local farmers’ markets and other venues.
The saints also blend regularly with other churches in Central Illinois/St. Louis region through monthly prayer times and other blending times during conferences. Young people, college-aged saints, and serving saints have many opportunities to pursue the Lord together through Midwest YP activities and college conferences, including the National and Midwest College Trainings, typically held in nearby in Urbana-Champaign.
Indeed, the fields are white; we are beseeching the Lord of the harvest for more co-laborers to gather materials for His building and His testimony.
Bloomington and Normal, separated only by a city street, are located at the center of the State of Illinois at the intersection of I-55 and I-74. I-55 links Normal with Chicago (130 miles NE) and St. Louis (171 miles SW). I-74 connects with Urbana-Champaign (64 miles E), Peoria (40 miles W), and Iowa City (192 miles NW).
Illinois’ climate has four distinct seasons and is typically classified as continental, with cold winters and warm summers. Spring and fall are most pleasant. The average temperature is in the 30s in winter, 60s in spring and fall, and 80s in the summer. Average precipitation is 40 inches a year with only about 100 days with measurable precipitation. Being far south of Chicago, Normal is not affected by the lake effect in the winter. Hence, Normal typically only has eight days with an inch or more of snow a year. Days with six inches or more of snow are very infrequent.
Healthcare in Bloomington-Normal is primarily served by two major providers: OSF Medical group based in Peoria and Carle Medical group based in Champaign. Both systems operate major comprehensive hospitals within Bloomington-Normal, and both have multiple outpatient care locations and urgent care facilities.
According to the 2020 US Census Bureau, the population of Bloomington is 78,680 and of Normal 52,736, making a total of 131,416. The demographic breakdown shows that the residents are primarily white (79%), African American (10%), Asian (5%), and Hispanic and Latino (6%). Over half of the population has a Bachelor’s degree or higher.
The economic outlook for Bloomington-Normal is bright and promising. Future job growth over the next ten years is predicted to be 23.5%. The mean household income is $62,621. The overall cost of living is low, scoring at 84 based on the US average of 100.
Top Employers (number of local employees) in Bloomington-Normal:
- State Farm Insurance Company (14,436) has been headquartered in Bloomington for 100 years.
- Rivian (5,000) has its first manufacturing campus in Normal, building electric cars, trucks, and commercial vans. Teams in Normal include manufacturing engineering, operations, supply chain, logistics, IT, quality, and customer engagement.
- Illinois State University (3,940) has been a comprehensive state-supported university since 1857.
- Unit 5 and District 87 public schools (2,561)
- Country Financial (2,020) began in 1925 with roots in agriculture but has grown to include Country Mutual Insurance Company, Country Life Insurance Company, Country Trust Bank, and Country Capital Management Company.
- OSF HealthCare (1,286)
- Carle BroMenn Healthcare (1,337)
Top employers (number of local employees) in Peoria:
Bloomington-Normal is served by Central Illinois Regional Airport, with air service provided by Allegiant, American, Delta, and Frontier. Furthermore, multiple daily services to O’Hare (ORD) and Midway (MDW) airports in Chicago are available through AMTRAK and Peoria Charter. Additional nearby airports include Peoria International Airport (PIA) in Peoria and Abraham Lincoln Capital Airport (SPI) in Springfield.
The primary mode of transportation within Bloomington-Normal is private cars. The mean travel time to work is 16 minutes. Public transit within Bloomington-Normal is served by Connect-Transit, making most of the shopping areas and campuses accessible.
Bloomington-Normal has several cultural interests. For pedestrians and bikers, the Constitution Trail links Normal and Bloomington along a tranquil green corridor where a railway line used to be. Approximately 37 miles of trail run through the city, the campuses, and the communities. The Children’s Discovery Museum, with over three stories, is an award-winning museum crammed with experiential, hands-on activities for kids, promoting open-ended learning. Other attractions in Bloomington-Normal include University Galleries of Illinois State University, Rader Family Farms with its family fun area and a 10-acre corn maze, the David Davis Mansion state historic site, and Miller Park Zoo.
In Peoria, there is the Peoria Riverfront Museum with interactive and wide-ranging exhibits, including a giant screen theater and a 40-foot dome planetarium. At the Caterpillar Visitors Center, the Immersive Visualization Center employs 3D modeling to put you at the controls of a CAT machine of the future and glimpse how an assembly line might look in years to come. Other attractions include the Peoria Zoo, Wildlife Prairie Park, and the Luthy Memorial Botanical Garden.
Nearby in Springfield, Illinois, the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum is the most-visited institution of its kind in the country, telling the life story of the 16th president in creative and surprising ways. Also, in Utica, another popular attraction is the Starved Rock State Park. There are many attractions for day trips in the Chicago and St. Louis areas.
Illinois State University (20,200 students) was founded in 1857. It was the first public university in the state and is one of the Midwest’s oldest higher education institutions. It is a co-educational, residential university with an emphasis on the undergraduate program, offering more than 160 fields of undergraduate study. The graduate school coordinates 38 masters, two specialist fields, and seven doctoral programs. The 350-acre (1.4 km2) campus includes over 60 significant buildings with state-of-the-art technology. Illinois State made U.S. News & World Report’s 2022 rankings of America’s best public national universities at No. 104. Illinois State is ranked among the top 10 percent of College Factual’s Best Colleges for the Money.
Heartland Community College (7,003 students) is the youngest community college in Illinois, offering training in more than 40 career fields in innovative and technologically progressive learning facilities. Classrooms and labs combine the latest technological advances with the personal, hands-on instruction students need to reach their academic goals. The HCC campus features a library, community meeting spaces, a pond, a bookstore, a café, and numerous locations for students to study or work on school projects. Recently, Heartland completed a new Corporate Education Center and founded an athletic program that includes baseball, softball, and men’s and women’s soccer teams.
Bradley University (6,000 students) is a top-ranked private university in Peoria, Illinois that offers undergraduate and graduate students opportunities and resources of a larger university and the personal attention and exceptional learning experience of a smaller university. Bradley offers more than 185 undergraduate and graduate academic programs in business, communications, education, engineering, fine arts, health sciences, liberal arts and sciences, and technology. These high-quality programs incorporate global and experiential learning opportunities, preparing graduates to succeed in a complex world.
Illinois Central College (7,217 students) is the seventh-largest compared to other community colleges in Illinois in terms of square miles (2,322 square miles). The student demographic is primarily white (74.3%) and African American (11.4%). ICC is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission and offers about 2,300 classes each fall and spring. The average class size is 15. There are roughly 180 full-time faculty and approximately 430 adjunct (part-time)
Public schools in Normal are under the jurisdiction of McLean County Unit District No. 5. Unit 5 employs approximately 1,650 full and part-time staff members to educate about 13,000 students. The district has more than 214 square miles, with 17 elementary, four junior high, two high school buildings, and one vocational training site. There are about 16.3 students per teacher in Normal.
Public schools in Bloomington are under District 87, covering about 10 square miles in Bloomington, Illinois. The district is home to one early education school, six elementary schools, one junior high, one high school, and one career/technical school. The district was recognized as the 2019 Green Ribbon School District by the U.S. Department of Education.
Private schools are primarily religious in nature and include Midwest Christian Academy, Calvary Christian Academy, and Firm Foundations 4 Kids.
The state of Illinois also has provisions for homeschooling. For those interested, the saints currently homeschooling can provide further details.
Within Bloomington-Normal, approximately 58% are owner-occupied homes with a median price of $167,300 in 2020. Rent for a typical house goes for $848 per month. Recently, the economic upturn with several major employers in Bloomington-Normal has caused a housing shortage and explosive growth in new homes and residential subdivisions.
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