|Wanda Dunlap teaches Trenam Verbick to search for Easter eggs during a hunt on acreage owned by BridgeView UMC in Norman.
Photos by Holly McCray
NORMAN—Wind swept the field and the people standing there, hands joined in prayer March 28 for BridgeView UMC’s building project.
It was easy to imagine the blustery wind quickly carrying that prayer to the heart of God. That morning, the congregation had dedicated $508,020 in funds and pledges toward constructing a church on land in northwest Norman. The sunny afternoon brought Easter-themed activities to the undeveloped site.
Tiny flags sprouted here and there, drawing lots of attention. They helped people trace the boundaries for the future building. Pastor Allen Carson began sentences with "You’re standing where …"
Music director Glen Woods found the spot where he will lead a sanctuary choir. Members Randall and Jill Floyd dreamed of Norman couples marrying in the new building—"a real church."
The congregation now worships in a mini-mall on 24th Avenue. Monthly rent for that space is $6,500, Rev. Carson said. Attendance is 110-115 people.
"In our current space, we would be hard-pressed to grow much," he said. "Space in Sunday school and in our sanctuary, parking—we don’t have it. In order for us to take the next step as a church, this is what we have to do. New folks visit at least every other week. I think we’ve had a baptism or new member almost every month."
Charter member Karen Rich recalled BridgeView’s launch 10 years ago. She and her husband, Eric, have been part of the church family "from Day One," she said, despite the miles between their Del City home and Norman. Those first services were at an elementary school.
Leslie Long’s connection to BridgeView dates to its beginnings, too. She has served there as both an associate and interim pastor. Rev. Dr. Long now directs the Wesley Foundation at the University of Central Oklahoma in Edmond. The Long family attends BridgeView and lives in northwest Norman.
As the populations in northwest Norman and southwest Moore grow toward one another, Carson said, subdivision properties on three sides of the new church site are platted for hundreds of new homes.
The church property is less than a mile west of Interstate 35, on Indian Hills Road. The land debt is fully paid.
Fund-raising continues, with the theme "Building a Home for All People," grounded in Isaiah 56:7. Cathleen Jones chairs the building committee; Jo Fowler, the design team; and John and Jennifer Verbick lead the stewardship campaign.
In a series of cottage meetings last year, participants expressed overwhelming support to act on building, Carson said. As they continue the planning process, they will develop financial goals with Mike Wiley, of the Oklahoma United Methodist Foundation, and will work with the Oklahoma City Bi-District Board of Church Location.
"We want the church to connect with the community beyond its walls, to be a safe place for people to know God’s love and be able to live that out in the world," Carson said. "There is a desire to do that here, a willingness to welcome new people. More people doing a project gives you the ability to do more in the world. It’s exciting."