On June 25, 1962 John and Ruth Peterson arrived at the newly established Baptist Student Foundation at Northern Illinois State Teachers College. A Sunday school class for college and career age students existed at First Baptist Church for many years and in the 50s apparently Judson Baptist Fellowship was established as a "supper club" ministry of the church and was recognized as a student organization of the university. For many campus evangelical students, Judson was the Sunday gathering.
With staff leadership and campus facility at 433 Normal Road, the ministry began to develop in several directions. Special internal programs began to include a married students fellowship, a graduate students fellowship, gospel teams including a drama team, a C.S. Lewis discussion group, retreats, special study classes which eventually earned college credit through Loyola University's religious studies program, and special ministries of social action and service.
As student participation in the local church declined, campus ministry events were increasingly moved from First Baptist Church to the campus house at 433 Normal Road. In 1967, the ministy purchased property at 449 Normal Road-nearly one acre in size. From 1974 to 1981, the ministry shared facilities with the Lutheran Campus Ministry at 401 Normal Road-a a prime location just across the street from NIU's Holmes Student Center. The Sunday worship, which had started just two years earlier, doubled during this period.
The present Baptist Campus Ministry facility at 449 Normal Road was completed in 1981. The building currently holds two offices for the ministry staff, a lounge area used for Bible Studies, game nights, movie nights, and general hang out areas, a kitchen, and a worship area on the first floor. We continue to be a faithful witness to the NIU community focusing on fellowship, outreach, and sharing God's love with the world.
We have always been called Judson Fellowship to our NIU students. At NIU we are the student organization Judson Fellowship. Through our student organization, we have partnered with students, staff, and faculty of NIU to be Christ's presence on campus by serving the NIU community.
Baptist Campus Ministry/Judson Fellowship has a long, proud history of serving the community of DeKalb. Through the dedication of our leadership, pastors, and volunteers, we are committed to the teachings of Jesus Christ and are here to spread His message. We are open to worshippers of all ages and backgrounds, and strive to lead all who worship with us towards a deeper love for God.
Our Congregational style is primarily a student ministry located in an educational setting, and therefore, is geared more towards accommodating a transitional student body. We try to blend church traditions and modern worship styles to create a blend of innovation and history. We seek to help the students follow God while away from their traditional home church, but making sure that we are not so radically different from a normal church setting that students become isolated from their home church and traditions. We have student leadership and volunteers on Sunday morning. We allow for student led missions, activities, and worship. We seek to nurture our congregation as a body and lead them to being strong in their faith and developing at taste for meat rather then milk.
The goal of the NIU Baptist Campus Ministry is to be a welcoming and divers body of believers, serving God by worshiping, exploring truth, helping the poor, widowed, orphan, and loving all His children. The ministry at NIU is to serve the campus and minister to students. the vision is to be a multinational, multiracial worshiping community that welcomes new students and faculty each year in the Bible Studies, service projects, and special events that broaden perspective and deep allegiance to Christ and His Kingdom.
There is a strong sense of community in the campus ministry body that is committed to prayer and to the study of Scripture. People come with a wide variety of gifts that are used in different ways in the ministry. Students are encouraged to use talents within ministry teams set up in the areas of service, worship, outreach, Bible Study, and fellowship.
We are connected with the American Baptist Churches U.S.A and Great River Region, as well as Northern Illinois University (NIU).