NORMAN — Although the for lease sign outside of 900 24th Ave. NW has been there for awhile, that small sign now has a huge meaning for one church that has had a dream for over a decade.
Founded in 2000, BridgeView United Methodist Church has been growing steadily. In 2006, church members purchased 30 acres of land on Indian Hills Road between 36th and 48th avenues with the intention of building a new church. Although there have been a few bumps in the road, the church’s dream of vacating it’s current location in a strip mall is almost a reality. On Feb. 1, the Rev. Sheri Lashley, senior pastor of BridgeView United Methodist Church, gave 90 days notice to the church’s landlord.
“Our building is supposed to be substantially completed on April 15,” Lashley said. “When I turned in that 90 days notice, it was kind of scary and exciting at the same time. It’s kind of a leap of faith that everything will be done.”
The church, which has called the Pepper Tree Shopping Center home since 2004, broke ground on the new facility on June 3, 2012.
“A lot has happened here since 2004. We need to respect that and honor this place,” Lashley said.
On April 28, the church plans to have what is guaranteed to be an emotional formal good-bye ceremony of its current location. It’s expected that BridgeView's first Sunday service in the new location will be on May 1.
Wolf Construction, a subsidiary of Gail Armstrong Construction, has been serving as general contractor on the project.
“That felt really good to help a company start. They are really doing good. There’s not been a lot of snags. I give God a lot of that credit,” Lashley said.
The building project is Phase 1 and is about 9,000 square feet. The sanctuary, which features a 32 feet-high vaulted ceiling, will hold about 255 individuals and the choir. Eight classrooms are planned as well as a large entryway and two offices.
Original plans for the church included an 18,252-square-feet Phase 1. Lashley, who has been at BridgeView for two years, had the original plans consolidated to reduce cost. The total project is a little over $2 million.
“It’s a mini church,” Lashley said, adding that when Phase 2 of the project is complete, it will fit more with the original plan.
And, even though Lashley is proud of the building, she also knows that bricks and paint don’t make a church.
“I came here and I was told to build a church. And that bothered me, because building a building is not what I consider the only thing that is important,” Lashley said. “I realized when we get there, we have to be a church already with all of the classrooms and the teachers. Building a church meant to me, building the people, the foundation of the church, having a mission, having a vision that would then fill that building. I believe that’s what we’ve done.”
And by doing that, the church has started new groups, has a small band for the youth and a new youth director. The church also has formed United Methodist Men and United Methodist Women groups.
“God and I have tired to work at building a church so that our church can move into our new building and keep growing. We can’t be a big church without people,” Lashley said.