Blythewood Presbyterian holds grand opening

BLYTHEWOOD – One might say that man’s vision and God’s plan have been realized for members of Blythewood Presbyterian Church after a little more than a decade in the planning stages. Selected to lead the new flock, Pastor Rhett Sanders and a nucleus of twenty families left Northeast Presbyterian Church on Polo Road in Columbia in 2010 to begin planting a new church in the Blythewood area. Almost ten years later, not only has that membership grown significantly to just over 100 families, but also the grand opening of their new church worship center was celebrated during this past Sunday’s worship service. 

Cutting the ribbon for the Blythewood Presbyterian Church’s grand opening are the church’s design team: Roy Williamson, left, Alisha Coleman, Ann Sanders, Erin Galloway and Ken Queen. Behind them are executive director John Powell, left, Pastor Rhett Sanders, associate pastor Brad Owens and worship leader Travis Wright. | Heather Kelly

In 2008, Palmetto Presbytery, the governing body associated with the Presbyterian Church in America, identified the Blythewood area as a growing community with the need for more churches as increasing numbers of families began moving into this area.

It was this discussion that caught the attention and triggered Dr. George Crow, lead pastor of Northeast Presbyterian Church and Assistant Pastor Rhett Sanders into action. According to Sanders, Northeast Pres had Blythewood families attending, and they already had established relationships with the area pastors, so the ideas of planting a PCA church in Blythewood made sense. In 2009, Dr. Bill Barton contacted Sanders to take the lead in this endeavor. Following that, Sanders and his wife Ann attended a Church Planting Assessment Program in February 2010.

“We were recommended to plant a church in Blythewood because of the relationships and leadership support we had around us,” said Sanders.”Dr. Crowe encouraged families from NEPC to commit and go with us, and NEPC was a huge financial support for our first three years. Dr. Crowe has been our biggest cheerleader, supporter and encourager.”

As with anything new, lots of details and logistics called for prayer and decisions. Blythewood Pres had a “soft launch” in August and September of 2010 when they met on Sunday evenings at St. Mark’s Lutheran Church.

“St. Mark’s was very gracious and even allowed us to store a drum set in their facilities for over nine years,” said Sanders.

From there, the Sunday worship services were moved to Blythewood High School from October 2010 – September 2019.

“We are very grateful to Richland District Two and the BHS staff for accommodating us for such a long time,” added Sanders.

In 2017, BPC staff and members moved their spring and fall worship services to the outdoors upon completion of their Pavillion on their 16+ acre Rimer Pond Road location that was acquired in 2012.

Sanders is quick to point out that God’s divine intervention has been present throughout the establishment and growth of this church plant.

“Our ‘Building for the Harvest’ stewardship campaign in the fall of 2018 was a clear movement of God as He did above and beyond all we asked and imagined,” said Sanders. “Our congregation, around 100 giving units, pledged just over $1,000,000. Eighty external givers (extended families and friends) gave almost $100,000.”

Boyer Construction Company was hired to complete the $1.6 million project which is financed by GrandSouth Bank.

While the church body was growing in number, the staff expanded as well to include Brad Owens as Associate Pastor of Discipleship and Youth in June 2017. Additionally, the church hired Travis Wright as a part-time worship leader, Lori Nelson as financial administrator, and Roy Williamson as business administrator. Volunteers are a big part of the BPC family including Rusty and Emily Curry overseeing the Elementary and Pre-School Ministries, respectively, as well as Patrick and Heather Kelly overseeing the Parish Ministry, in addition to many others.

The staff and congregants are active throughout the week with small group meetings held in homes, youth gatherings at the church and in homes, a ladies’ prayer time and Bible study on Wednesday mornings and a monthly Women’s Fellowship.

The vision of a permanent home for worship services is now a reality, but one of the greater visions, “to be a great church for the community of Blythewood,” is an ongoing goal.

Two outreach programs include a Youth Spring and Fall Soccer League and First Fruits Market Garden.

“These are two great venues that enable us to serve, love on, and engage with families that live around us,” added Sanders.

An outdoor, bonfire, candlelight Christmas Eve in the Fields service has been a community favorite since its inception in 2010.

 Additionally, the church prayerfully and financially supports ministry partners that include local and global outreach ministries in Blythewood, NE Columbia, Florida, Mexico, Argentina, England, North Africa, Italy, and Thailand.

“We also desire to bear reliable witness to the wonderful Good News that brings great joy to all people,” said Sanders.

Services are held at 10:30 a.m. each Sunday at the 441 Rimer Pond Road location with a coffee and fellowship time at 10:00 prior to the worship hour.

The BPC website encourages newcomers stating, “We invite you to join us this Sunday morning for worship. Our worship is gospel-centered, our congregation is friendly, and our dress is casual.”