One of the oldest church buildings in all of Berrien County is now home to one of the newest church families in the entire region…all thanks to the shifting fortunes of two other churches who eventually found the solution through a merger of sorts. This is the story of the new Berrien Community Church in Bridgman.
The new church congregation has actually been in the community as a force for nearly two years, but decided to share their story with the community at large to see if perhaps it might be the church of your choice going forward.
The story begins on two fronts. In 1875, well more than 100 years ago, the church community known as Olivet Congregational Church began at 4284 Lake Street in Bridgman. Olivet Congregational was a solid, thriving church and a focal point in the Bridgman community for many years.
In 1960, Olivet underwent a leadership change, and started out with many of its original generational members. Over the next forty years however, the church was slowly losing members, and leadership changed hands again, leading to a slow decline. By 2010, Olivet was down to a handful of members who decided to leave and find a new church home.
Meanwhile, a few miles away, the church community of the Baroda Worship Center was being led by Pastor Herb Smith. Smith has been in the ministry and has specialized in mission planting all over the nation. He has been a Pastor for more than 40-years, has served his national faithfully in the military and holds multiple degrees in his chosen field.
Pastor Smith was also witnessing problems with his congregation. The exact opposite issue of Olivet. Baroda Worship Center was growing and running out of space. He knew it was time to find something new, and launched the search for a new church home.
In 2014, Pastor Herb heard the the trials and tribulations of Olivet Congregational and their myriad struggles. Following careful consideration and considerable thoughtful prayer, Baroda Worship Center and Olivet Congregational elected to merge congregations to create something new, and something fully renewed.
Today, the new Berrien Community Church now calls the more than 100 year old Bridgman church its home. Already Berrien Community Church has played an active role in the community, reaching out a hand and opening their doors to those who need it. The congregation is currently involved in multiple community events, partnering with other local churches for food drives. They hosted a Fall Harvest Party, they opened doors to Trick-or-Treaters for a warm dinner, snacks and activities for the kids.
Members of the Berrien Community Church have been actively restoring the church back to is former glory, with a goal to stay family-focused, community-driven, and "to be the hands and feet of Jesus" to those around them.
Worship style at Berrien Community is contemporary with a traditional flair, blending current worship with traditional hymns and praise. They also have employed a fun Kids Ministry, which is led by Pastor Herb's wife, Christine. There is also an Adult Sunday School before worship and on Thursdays, and they hold prayer nights and Bible study where they provide a warm dinner to those in attendance.
Berrien Community Church member Romy Ingels tells me that they are excited to be partnering with the Bridgman community, and look forward to the future. Service times are every Sunday at 11am, with Adult Sunday School preceding at 10am. Bible study and Prayer sessions are held Thursday evenings at 6:30pm.
Coming up on Saturday, February 20th the church will offer a Men's Breakfast at 9am at Roma's in Bridgman. Less than a week later, on February 26th, the church will host Family Fun Night Games, on Friday the 26th at 7pm with snacks and fun for the entire family.
Congratulations to two successful church families finding one another on alternate trajectories, now both soaring to new heights for the worship and the community at large as well. The church is located at 4284 Lake Street in downtown Bridgman.