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THE BRIDGE CHURCH STORY
The Bridge Church was planted by our Lead Pastor, Marty Schmidt in
September of 2007. We were planted from our parent church, Third Church in
Pella, Iowa, about 45 minutes away. It started with a core team of 25 people
and, over 15 years, has seen steady growth. From just a couple staff members,
we now have 19 full time staff and 4 part time staff.
We have been portable in the Ottumwa location since day one, but have met
in the same building, the Bridge View Center. BVC is a local convention center,
with a theater that seats 650 people, a huge lobby, and conference rooms that
we utilize for children’s ministry (Bridge Kids).
Over the course of the first 10 years, we focused on the community in
Ottumwa, specifically, and added services as we grew until we had 3 services
each Sunday. In 2015, we were able to purchase and begin renovations on a
building in downtown Ottumwa that is for everything but Sundays.
Renovations were completed in fall of 2018 on what we call The Hub that
houses our coffee shop open to the public every day but Sunday, our staff
offices, small group space, a gym, and an auditorium that can seat about 300
After year 10, we started feeling a call to branch out to communities close by.
We had a number of people driving from 30 – 45 minutes away just to attend
in Ottumwa. In 2019, we launched a campus in Centerville, Iowa, about 45
minutes southwest of Ottumwa. They have seen steady growth in 3 years,
through multiple location changes and are now averaging about 300 people
each week in a building that barely fits them all! We have recently purchased a
portion of a mall in Centerville and are renovating that space to have our first
permanent Sunday location. That should be up and running by March of 2023.
In 2020 we were set to launch our third location in the town of Fairfield, Iowa,
when COVID-19 shut that down for a year. We were able to launch officially
on Easter of 2021 in the middle school in Fairfield, about 20 minutes
from Ottumwa. In just a year and a half this location sees on average
200-250 people each week.
In 2023, we have announced that we plan to open a campus in a town called
Oskaloosa, Iowa, about 30 minutes from Ottumwa. We are excited to go to
this community as we have had people driving from there since we started, 15
years ago. We feel like God has finally opened the door to be able to reach this
Throughout the years we have also been able to bless our communities in
many ways. One of our favorite events each year is The Christmas Store. It is
an event where families are able to pay $5 per child to shop for Christmas and
they get socks, underwear, a pillow, a toy, and a book and we wrap it all
with them while we watch their kids. In 2021, well over 1000 kids were
shopped for. In addition to that event, we do serve projects at least every
other month, with a huge Serve Day across all locations in July each year.
We manage a Free Clinic that offers free health care each week and is staffed
by volunteer doctors and nurses. We recently started a separate non-profit
called the Southeast Iowa Dream Center that will help to be the vehicle to be
hands on in the community. We are about to finish building our first house that
will be sold at and advantage rate to a single parent.
We are poised for more growth with our campuses both growing, and looking
ahead to launching a 4th campus next year. We’re excited for how God is
continuing to use us to Rebuild, Repair, Restore.