Jan. 17—TEMPERANCE — As they think back to the day they watched their church alight with flames, congregants and staff recall that it felt surreal. Even as they began making calls — still onsite — to arrange a venue for the next day's service, it was difficult to square with what was happening in front of them.
"Is this really happening?" BridgePoint Church Lead Pastor
For Student Ministries Pastor
"It took a while to sink in that it actually happened," he said.
It's exciting, they said. But it's similarly going to take them a while to adjust.
"I think that's really big," she said, "but it hasn't really sunk in."
Some were answered quickly.
The congregation continued a routine of setting up and tearing down their worship space in the high school for several months afterward, then shifted to
Other questions called for deeper consideration: Would they rebuild? Would they move?
"That's played a part in it taking so long, because we did have some options,"
"I just felt like God wasn't done using our church in this location yet,"
The blueprint they selected intentionally kept the construction costs almost entirely under the insurance payout; they owe nothing on the new church, which the pastor said has a smaller but also more efficient layout than their previous facility.
At its heart is an auditorium with seating for up to 350, as well as equipment to continue broadcasting services well after the pandemic-related need for this virtual outlet has dissolved. The auditorium is flanked by a preschool wing, as well as administrative offices, children's ministry rooms, a commercial kitchen and a spacious lobby that's well suited for less formal chitchat and fellowship among congregants.
Under a second phase of construction, for which the pastor said they've not yet established a timeline, they hope to regain some of the amenities they lost in the fire, like a gymnasium.
As he reflected on the "whirlwind" path that brought the congregation to finally open the doors last month — and that was even before a pandemic added additional complications — he credited the congregation as "some of the most resilient people that I've ever been around."
"It has been overwhelming at times, when we rely on ourselves and our own power and strength. But God has seen us through every step of the way,"
In addition to delaying the opening beyond its anticipated date this summer, the pandemic has inevitably tempered some of the would-have-been enthusiasm for the new space. While
So it's not the blowout grand opening celebration that
It's one more way reality is beginning to sink in that they're finally home in their new space.
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