Rev. Audley Bruce was our minister from 1953 - 1957. He and his wife Catherine and son, Paul, arrived in Crainville in Jan. 1953. We were his first Church and our first minister with professional theological training. In fact he didn’t graduate from Northern Baptist Seminary until May of 1953. He was ordained at Crainville Baptist Church on April 12, 1954.
Bruce was one of Jack and my favorite ministers probably because he came to Crainville soon after we were married. Jack was still a member of Grand Ave. Baptist Church in Carterville but was playing piano and organ at Crainville Baptist. Bruce said, “Jack, I think it’s time for you to join our Church.” and Jack hesitated because he didn’t want to come down to the front of the Church and Bruce said, “You can remain at the piano and we’ll handle it from there” and that’s what happened. Since this was his first pastorate, there were many other firsts for him. His first wedding (Sam & Sally Rich - June 1953), first baptisms (Rev. Coleman from Cambria Baptist taught him how to baptize and had Bruce baptize him several times until he got it right). Many people joined the Church during his years here, especially young couples who related so well to him. One of these couples was Harold & Jewell Norton and he was so proud when he learned how active they had been ever since they were converted and joined the Church in 1954.
In 1957, Bruce and his family moved to Canton Baptist Church in Canton, IL. Al Turl was a teenager in that Church at the time. Al has good memories of those years. (I like to think that Bruce influenced Al into studying for the ministry).
In 1990, Bruce & Catherine attended the 100th Anniversary of our Church and they were pleased to see how the Church has prospered. They shared some of their memories of their years at CBC.
Bruce’s tenure here was an important part of his life-long ministry. He told me many times what a wonderful experience it was for him to have started his full-time service to the Lord at Crainville Baptist Church and we were very fortunate to have him as our minister. It was a Win-Win situation! (written by Sue Ridley)
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