Posted on : Friday June 23, 2017

By Sharon Mager

WESTERNPORT, Md.—Members of Bruce Outreach Center prayed, sang, and praised God at a mortgage burning ceremony earlier this month. With a loan from the Baptist Foundation of Maryland/Delaware, the church purchased an old high school at an auction and launched four years ago. Through the generosity of members and others who gave generously, including an anonymous donor from Louisiana who heard about the project, the leaders were able to gather around a fire pit on the platform and put the loan papers in the flames.

“God is good, He orchestrated everything,” said Steffan Carr, senior pastor of the church.

Bruce Outreach leaders burned the mortgage as the congregation praised God.

The old Bruce High School was shut down due to school consolidations, Carr explained. “It was the heart and hub of the community, “The closing was heartbreaking.”

At the mortgage burning, church leader Delores Poland shared how God put it on the heart of the leaders to dream big. “I’m part of the crazy group that came up here,” she said with choking emotion. “God never fails. God took us on mission trips where we stayed in schools, and we began to see how God could lead us to the community if we just had a bigger place. Then came the time that the county put the building out for bid,” she said.

“We had prayer, and thought, what should we do? There’s only a few of us. Wow, what a big undertaking!” Poland said. The church decided to follow their senior pastor’s decision.

“About 10:00 at night I got a phone call, and Steffan said, ‘I just want to tell you, God has led me to bid,’ and I said, ‘Praise the Lord!’ I didn’t know how we’d pay for it but God knew,” she said.

Carr and Deacon Bob Poland, Delores’ husband, traveled in deep snow to put the bid in the next day—just $50,000. And God opened the door.

Assistant Pastor Jack Harrison shared, “The first day we came up here it was cold, there was water everywhere, the roof was leaking terribly, it was huge, and we were all freezing. Steffan was coming up the ramp, and he looked at me and said, ‘What do you think?’ and I couldn’t share the enthusiasm,” said Jack Harrison, BOC assistant pastor, with a laugh.

After Pastor Steffan Carr shares about the past and hopes for the future of Bruce Outreach Center, leaders lay hands and pray over him.

“But God is bigger than my trepidation. God has blessed us with this building.” Harrison said God is doing something unique with the church and using the building to reach the community.

“We call the gym, ‘The Bridge.’ What a great name for a gymnasium. We’re touching lives of hundreds and hundreds of kids and young people who would never step foot into a traditional church!” said Harrison.

“I’ve been a Christian since 1971. My life is tougher than it has ever been, but in other ways, I’m experiencing more excitement and joy in my spiritual life and my fellowship with the church and what God is doing in this church than I’ve ever experienced in my life. I think God wants to do something wonderful in these last days. He wants to make this a city on a hill.”

In the four years since launch, the church has seen thousands of people come to sports events. They’ve started Celebrate Recovery programs, a large day care center, and a feeding program. They have high school sized classrooms for their Sunday School and children’s church. There’s plenty of room for mission teams and showers. The potential is phenomenal. Carr said many mission teams in and out of state have helped and there is much more to be do.

Carr laughed and said sometimes he still thinks he’s crazy for putting in the bid, but God is blessing, and the church is holding on to Him. Other pastoral staff members are David Cowen, and Brian Hogan.

For more information about Bruce Outreach Center, or to schedule a mission trip, contact Steffan Carr.