Old country churches come in all shapes and sizes. In January, one local “old country church” will add some major growth to a history that dates back as far as 1919.
Pastor Ralph Foster is the one who likes to say that Bloomington Chapel Brethren in Christ Church is an “old country church with an old country preacher.”
The church has experienced phenomenal growth in recent years and plans were made to make room for the new worshippers. As a result, members will hold church services in a new sanctuary in January.
The church is located at 55 Bloomington Church Rd., just off of Snake Creek Road. Five years ago the congregation went across the street and built a roomy, covered basement to use as a fellowship hall. Around a year and a half ago when services peaked with 179 people in attendance, services were moved from the old church into the fellowship hall.
Plans were then made to start construction of a church building on top of the basement.
Foster and church member Tony Streeval recalled how the plans started.
“A year ago last July we met because we knew we had to do something,” Foster said. “We figured we would take it a step at a time.”
Streeval said they made plans to put the church “under roof,” cover it with plastic and let it sit until they could get it paid off. They decided how much money they would borrow toward the project to get it under roof and planned to finish the project as they could without adding any more debt.
Today, the church is nearing completion and they have stayed at the maximum debt level they originally planned for the first phase of the project.
“We had a bunch of teachers, bus drivers and preachers putting up wood,” laughed Streeval, who is also a preacher.
Church members donated time and materials, and some businesses provided discounts, but even people who don’t attend church at Bloomington Chapel dropped in to help, Foster said.
“Everybody got on board,” he said, noting that from the beginning the congregation supported the project.
The new church provides ample room with numerous classrooms and a sanctuary that will hold up to 275 people.
They will probably need it sooner than later, because attendance was over 200 for homecoming and is rarely under 130 on a regular basis.
Foster and Streeval are quick to give credit for the growth to God and said they aren’t trying to brag on their church.
“We’re poor country people and have poor country ways, but we give God praise for this. It’s him, not us,” Streeval said.
“We had no other choice. God said build it and we built it,” he said.
The church has roots that go back as far as 1919 when a group of people came into the area to hold tent revivals. The Kentucky Brethren in Christ Churches was later established and Albert Engle, an early pioneer Brethren in Christ preacher, held the first tent meeting at Bloomington in 1928.
The church itself started with services in a schoolhouse just up the road from the new site and moved to the church building used up until last year in 1960.
Bloomington Chapel Brethren in Christ Church will hold an open house on Saturday, Jan. 5 beginning at 10 a.m.
Regular church services are held each week at 10 a.m. and 6:30 p.m. each Sunday with Bible Study on Wednesday at 6:30 p.m.
Everyone is invited to attend. For more information, call 384-6089.