December 28, 1998
Bear Creek United Methodist Church, located on the northeast corner of Avondale Road and NE 165th Street.
Staff photo by Andrew Walgamott.
by Dorothy Brewster
After holding services for nearly seven years in an elementary school, the congregation of Bear Creek United Methodist Church will soon have a new church of their own in which to worship. Under construction near Cottage Lake since last May, the church is scheduled to open January 10, 1999.
"This is very exciting for all of us, because we have all worked so hard," says Randy Garrett, co-chairperson of the building committee.
The new building is approximately 15,000 square feet and spread over one level into a "celebration space" (sanctuary), narthex, and education and administrative wings.
"To help visualize, the building is about the same size as the Woodinville Library," suggests Garrett.
The "celebration space" has a rounded look with a 25-foot ceiling. Four radiused panels alternately hide the ventilation system, and lead the eye to a skylight above. A hidden steel tension ring holds the ceiling aloft.
"Since there isn't any support from the middle of the room, this was needed so that the ceiling doesn't collapse," said Dave Riensche, a welder/carpenter from Stanwood, who worked on the building.
Lending additional light to the sanctuary are two huge windows, so large they had to be reinforced with steel to keep from bowing and breaking during windstorms.
The education wing has eight classrooms which can be subdivided into 11 rooms. The administrative wing has nine office and meeting rooms. The narthex, a gathering area just inside the church's double-doored entry way, will be used for socializing, and hosting other groups in the community, such as scout troops.
Weather and complications in construction delayed the church's opening, scheduled for just before Christmas, to January 10. Members have been meeting at Laura Ingalls Wilder Elementary School since March of 1992. An average of 185 people attend every week.
"One of the most significant aspects of Bear Creek," says Ann Rupley, secretary and longtime member, "is the diversity and openness found among the church as a whole."
"The mission statement of the church goes along with this philosophy," she adds. "It states: The mission of Bear Creek United Methodist Church is to create a diverse family, a place of belonging for all people, and to reach out and make disciples of Christ."
Teens and children are active in church services.
"Our services are quite family-oriented. The kids aren't just occupied, but actually get a sense that they are a part of what is going on," said Bill Hoppe, music coordinator and member.
Four alternating music teams also perform regularly at the church under Hoppe's supervision.
The Bear Creek Church hosts many activities for its members including bible studies, a choir, a handbell choir, women's fellowship, a men's prayer breakfast, and youth group for junior and senior high schoolers. A youth group meets each Sunday.
Pastor Roger Barr, originally from Sequim, has been with the church since June of 1997. Founding pastor Don Sorenson served from 1992 to Oct. 1996. Mary Scifres was the interim pastor until 1997.
Services are at 9:30 a.m. every Sunday with education classes following.
Bear Creek United Methodist is located at 16530 Avondale Road NE. in Woodinville. There will be a public open house Sunday, February 7, at 3 p.m.