DANVILLE, Ill. (WCIA) — Danville church leaders have announced the new name for their place of worship. They’re calling it Hope Unlimited Church.
Previously called First Assembly Church of God, church officials said it’s a way of moving on from the bombing that happened there on May 28, 1998. A joint task force implicated Richard White as a person of interest in both the Danville bombing and the bombing of a church in Oakwood that happened the previous December. One person died in the Oakwood bombing.
White himself was killed in an explosion several days after the Danville bombing as federal authorities were closing in.
Hope Unlimited Administrator Bonnie Pirie was home the morning the bomb went off, but she still remembers what that day was like.
“At first you feel guilty for all those that aren’t there because that was your family,” Pirie said. “And you feel like even though you’re glad you weren’t part of that you feel like you should’ve been.”
Pirie also said they’re not changing their affiliation with the assembly, but want to be more inclusive than they’ve been in years past.
“I loved my old church, but it was an all-white church,” she said. “And if you didn’t look a certain way, you stuck out,” Pirie said.
Pastor Ryan Harris agreed and said this change has been long overdue.
“It’s been about a 16-month process that we decided this is how we wanted to identify ourselves,” Harris said. “So that everybody knew that this was a place, in a very difficult season in the world in which we live, where there is hope and not only hope but hope without limitations.”
Harris said steps like renovating the building, plus the new name, are all part of a plan to make sure everyone has a safe place to worship.
“It is our hope that we’re going to establish ourselves not necessarily as a church where something tragic happened, but a church where you can go when tragedy strikes your life and find strength and hope and help,” Harris said.
Harris said the church is still thinking of ideas to commemorate the anniversary next month.
But he said they’ll take a lot of thought to make sure it’s an event that includes everyone in Danville.