BridgeWay Community Church was planted in 2005 by Pastor Dale Schaeffer and a team from our parent church, Pekin First Church of the Nazarene, under Pastor Greg Mason and District Superintendent Crawford Howell. BridgeWay was established with the vision to specifically "connect people to Jesus Christ, to each other, and to God's purposes for their lives."
BridgeWay first met at the Bertha Frank Theater in Morton from February 2005 to August 2006. We then moved to the Field Shopping Center in Morton where we worshiped together from September 2006 until October 2010.
From November 2010 through July 2012, we met in the auditorium of Tremont High School. We purchased a building in Pekin on the second-busiest intersection in Tazewell County and held our first service at BridgeWay's own home on July 29, 2012, under Pastor Dale Schaeffer.
Throughout BridgeWay's first ten years, we witnessed 806 professions of faith and 309 baptisms! In addition, the culture of BridgeWay encouraged and empowered the church plant of Second Chance Church in Fishers, Indiana.
In November 2013, Pastor Schaeffer and his family relocated to Oregon to fulfill God's call on their hearts to serve as pastor of a church plant, and we began the prayerful search for a new lead pastor.
Central to BridgeWay's effectiveness was the consistent guidance of our Mission-Vision team and the continued determined work of our pastoral staff, ministry leaders, volunteers, and the investments of both Pekin First Church of the Nazarene and the Northwest Illinois District Church of the Nazarene. We continued strong into BridgeWay's next chapter.
Pastor Jeff Stark joined our pastoral team in August 2014 as lead pastor. In late 2015, we were approached by a small struggling church about merging with us to impact the community of Marquette Heights. BridgeWay accepted the invitation and on January 6, 2016, we launched our Marquette Heights campus.
And we continued to plant!
In the summer of 2018, we planted Reachway Church in Peoria, pastored by Seth Major, who was one of our church plant residents. Our current church plant resident, Kevin Gross and his family, are heart invested toward a BridgeWay church plant in Switzerland. God continues to move in and through BridgeWay Community Church in faithfulness and power!
In May 2019, Pastor Jeff followed his calling into the heart of downtown Chicago and Pastor Linsy Stockham stepped up as interim lead pastor and later accepted the call as lead pastor to a church in Bloomington.
We welcomed Pastor Michael Downs, and his family, as our new lead pastor in August 2019, along with Pastor Gabe Wickstrum and his family. At the close of 2021, Pastor Gabe followed God's leading to serve as Worship Pastor for an out-of-state church.
God has made it clear from our beginning that He continues to be powerfully at work through BridgeWay Community Church--across the country and throughout the world!
We continue in awe, anticipation, and worship of God as He continues to unfold His further plans for BridgeWay Community Church.