Diverse crowd greets new worship space at the Bridge


   They arrived in blue jeans and dress pants, t-shirts and sport coats, young and old, black, white and Hispanic.
    Among them were families with school-aged children, recent divorcees, recovering addicts and ex-offenders.
      The common denominator: They were mostly un-churched or had been away from church for a long time. And they were seeking a place to belong, to be real, and to be involved in making a difference in the lives of others.
     On Sun., Feb. 17, this eclectic blend of God’s people gathered to celebrate the grand opening of the new Worship Center at the Bridge, a United Methodist Church in Cartersville. On a brisk, clear winter morning in North Georgia, they filled they filled the room twice for worship.
.     The Bridge serves as a new alternative to worship within the deep, historic tradition of faithful United Methodist communities, devoted to bearing witness to the grace of God in ways that connect with people. Everything at the Bridge has been designed to welcome those who often don’t feel comfortable in a traditional church setting.
        The recent expansion has more than doubled the space occupied by the Bridge in the Stone Mill Shopping Center and it provides ample room to grow.
     The Welcome Center, which was the original worship space, is complete with cafe-style tables and chairs, an information center, a photo board about small groups, and a charging station for smart phones and tablets. The newly expanded Worship Center is designed with flat-screens, backlights and modern decor to connect with the young families.
       Worship is designed to flow in a way that eliminates barriers to participation by first-time guests.
     On the morning of the grand opening, the Bridge was abuzz with children, parents and grandparents. The theme for worship during the Lenten season is Spring Training for Easter and a video interview with the local high school baseball coach highlighted a message about the significance of spiritual preparation and focus.
            It is our desire that, beyond Sunday morning, people feel welcome at the Bridge any day of the week.
          The new space also includes a vacated restaurant that the Bridge will soon utilize to provide warm meals for anyone who is hungry.
         From the Newcomer's Lunches to the Community Christmas Party to the Summer Lunch Program, the focus is on building community around the good news of God's love.
     Eric Lee serves as pastor of the Bridge.