For 156 years, First Baptist Church of Winterset has been a cornerstone of Madison County. As of a December 16 vote, the church at 1305 W. Jefferson Street, is no longer called First Baptist. It is now New Bridge Church.
So after a century and a half as First Baptist, why is the church changing its name?
Pastor Mike Carlson explains.
“God is in the process of changing who we are as a church,” says Carlson. “It’s more than just changing a name. He’s giving us a new identity.”
So why the name “New Bridge Church?”
“Nothing says Madison County like a bridge,” states Carlson. “But the idea of a bridge is to connect.”
New Bridge Church aims to have every individual in the congregation connect with the people in their lives and serve as a bridge– a bridge to Christ, a bridge to a warm and welcoming church family, and a bridge of service to the community.
Shrugging off implications that the church’s increased desire to help the community is impressive, Carlson emphasizes that only God deserves credit for the exciting changes at New Bridge Church.
“It’s humbling that God would be using us in this way.”
In recent months, a new energy and focus has erupted within the congregation. A passion for serving the community and a desire to be used as a bridge to lead others to Christ has become increasingly obvious within the church family. It has manifested itself in several ways.
This past Halloween, FBC, as it was called at the time, opened its doors to the community for its first “Great Pumpkin Party.” About 90 people within the church excitedly volunteered to serve the more than 650 area kids and parents who came for hotdogs, photos, and games.
With a desire to reach local family and friends who are unlikely to attend traditional church, New Bridge is helping to launch “Cowboy Church” at the Right Turn Feed Store in DeSoto.
New Bridge is also aiding in the start of a similarly-minded Biker Church in the Des Moines area.
Building on 156 years of Biblical teaching, Carlson assures that changing the name will not lead to a softened stance on Biblical truths. The church will maintain its association with the Baptist Convention of Iowa and continue its important role in already established partnerships and services.
In fact, New Bridge Church is pouring its renewed spirit into these opportunities.
The church continues to open its doors every Wednesday night at 6:30 pm to many area children for AWANAs, where the kids sing, play games, enjoy stories and memorize Bible verses. Simultaneously, teens meet at the Studio on the square to be fed with hope, friendship and the love of Christ.
Nationally, New Bridge will also continue to serve the Cherokee people through their church partners in Tahlequah, Oklahoma. They will continue to play a vital role in national disaster relief efforts, coming to the aid of hurricane and tornado victims throughout the country.
Globally, New Bridge will continue to support missions in Uganda, Africa, as they are now preparing to send a team this summer for the eighth straight year.
According to Carlson, the re-energized congregation is constantly thinking of exciting new ideas for reaching the community and serving Madison County.
Ashley Scott of the Winterset Madisonian. Originally printed in the Winterset Madisonian, used by permission.