HOW IT STARTED – When the Gateway Conference decided to plant a church in the Edwardsville area, Bishop Les Krober and the Greenville Free Methodist Church immediately agreed to parent and support the new plant. To that end, the Greenville church sought members of their congregation to serve as a temporary core group for what they called “the Edwardsville Church Plant”. In March of 1999, Pastor Ben and Julie Tolly arrived in Edwardsville and began ministry and work with the Greenville core group.
THE PLACE – The new staff and core group immediately started seeking a permanent place for the church to meet. They met in the Pastor’s home and various rented spaces for some time. God faithfully provided a home for the new church in what used to be a restaurant in the local mall. A talented group called Craftsmen for Christ, as well as the core group, helped to remodel the restaurant into the space that served the church for 8 years. When Wal Mart decided to expand, the location of the church and surrounding businesses were required to relocate. For two years, THE BRIDGE rented office space on Center Grove Road across from the movie theater, and held Sunday services in the Liberty Middle School Auditorium. In December of 2009, a small church building was put up for sale in Old Town Glen Carbon. After much prayer, the congregation set off to raise the needed funds to acquire the facility, and through a generous gift from a former attender, sacrificial giving from membership, and a matching campaign from the Alton Emmanuel Free Methodist Church, the congregation took possession of the facility in the spring of 2010.
THE NAME – During a planning session in The Tolly’s home, the staff and some of the core group were brainstorming over name possibilities. The name “The Bridge” was unanimously chosen as a constant reminder of the mission statement of the church, “Connecting people to God and each other”.
THE PUBLIC LAUNCH – After several months of planning, preparation and praying The Bridge launched on January 16, 2000 to a crowd of over 150 people. With the local press present, the service began with the band singing “Free Ride”, hoping to catch the attention of the unchurched and spiritually seeking.
SINCE THEN – Since its inception The Bridge has witnessed 100’s of first time commitments to God, several hundred rededications of faith, continual baptisms, and many go into full time service in the ministry.