Birch Bay church moving ahead with proposed facility
By Tara Nelson
A church that has become a pillar of community in Birch Bay is moving ahead with its plans for expansion.
Nearly two years after announcing its plan to relocate, Birch Bay Bible Community Church officials have submitted an application for a zoning conditional use permit for a new 45,000-square foot facility on the corner of Blaine and Bay roads.
The move comes after they sold the current facility at 7309 Jackson Road to BP Cherry Point refinery in October, 2006.
“Part of what we recognized is that we needed a bigger facility,” said associate pastor Tim Thiessen. “We were at the point we were going to be needing a major overhaul of the current building and that building a new facility would be the most cost-effective decision.”
Thiessen said although they are still in the design phase, they plan to construct a larger and more accommodating building. Thiessen added that he hopes the church can continue to serve as a community meeting space for various groups such as the Birch Bay Steering Committee.
“Our desire is that we continue to be a part of this community and a place that people look to and see as an asset to Birch Bay. Our name is community church and we want to be as much a part of the community as we want them to be part of us,” he said. “Of course, we have to give kudos to our landlord, which is BP, that allows us to continue to host those meetings.”
Steering committee chair Kathy Berg agreed. Berg and fellow members of the committee and subcommittees have been organizing meetings there since late 2004. Berg said the facility has allowed Birch Bay to come together as a community in the absence of another place large enough in the area.
“Pastor Rick volunteered the church and we’ve been there ever since. It’s been an excellent facility because they can accommodate either large or small groups,” she said. “They even provide brownies and coffee when we meet. They’re really important to this community.”
BP officials say the company plans to use the facility as an off-site training site and possible office space.
The church was established in 1937 as the Mennonite Brethren Church by mid-western Mennonites who moved here looking for alternative ways to make a living when their crops were destroyed by severe dust storms. The church celebrated its 70th anniversary in December of 2007.