Rewon Shimray | Staff Writer
From under a bustling highway bridge to the famous fresh-cut lawns of Magnolia Market & Silos, Mission World’s Church Under the Bridge will be moving locations in March 2019.
Church Under the Bridge meets under the I-35 bridge at the Fourth and Fifth Street exit almost every Sunday for people of all backgrounds to participate in a Church service. The service includes worship, led by people from the community, a sermon from various church leaders and even a free meal.
Carolena Meza Clark, Mission World administrative assistant and eight-year member of Church Under the Bridge, said she views the spot as home but believes the church is about the diverse people who attend not the physical place in which it stands.
The consideration for a new location comes because of the start of a $300 million, three-to-five year project to widen and beautify I-35 by the Texas Department of Transportation. The highway will be expanded into four lanes between North Loop 340 and South 12th Street. Waco City Council has also funded a $2.1 million project to install decorative globe lights.
Magnolia approached Executive Director of Mission Waco and head pastor Jimmy Dorrell with the offer a few weeks ago and finished negotiations with him. He shared the monumental news last Sunday on the church’s 26th anniversary.
The agreement between Church Under the Bridge and Magnolia includes the use of their facilities on Sundays free-of-charge and negotiations will be reconsidered for an extension after a year. Dorrell said the offer was incredibly generous and gracious.
Dorrell said all conditions for using the location are thing that he would enforce anyways. Members are not to ask visitors for money, smoke outside of the parking lot or bring their dogs.
In August, Church Under the Bridge had plans to move to Brazos Parking across the street from McLane Stadium. While Church Under the Bridge provides three vans to help members with transportation, Dorrell said the former new location, that sits a mile away, would have been a challenge for members because many members do not have cars. However, Dorrell said the location and conditions of Magnolia make it the “ideal location.”
Meza Clark said she had doubts and worries about moving to Magnolia initially because Church Under the Bridge isn’t a typical church service, but came to view it as a good opportunity as it will reach more people. She said more Wacoans will see this other side of poverty through their church members.
Clark said she is excited about meeting in such a pretty and fancy facility. There will be less noisiness away from the street as well. Dorrell said he is looking forward to having access to indoor bathrooms instead of portable toilets.
“There will be some unfamiliarity with it at first, but we work with people who aren’t typically church-going people, so we don’t want this to be awkward for them,” Dorrell said. “We still want that attitude and hospitality for people, where they know that we don’t care what you’ve done or where you’ve been.”