Growing up: Portage County church expands to accommodate ballooning congregation
By Kris Leonhardt
PORTAGE COUNTY – A Plover church recently completed a building project that will help the congregation serve its expanding religious community.
Woodlands Church was formed in 1972 in Stevens Point.
“We moved to this current property on the corner of HH and Hoover in December of 1999,” said Woodlands Senior Pastor Brian Berg, one of seven pastors on staff.
“We’ve been here ever since then. This is the third building project on this site that we’ve done. So this is Phase 3 of the projects that we’ve done.”
The first project involved the addition of classrooms and a multipurpose room that served as a gym and a worship space.
“We outgrew that and then we added another worship space, a large chapel, and more kids classrooms, more offices. Since 2005, we’ve been meeting in two rooms for our worship services; so pre-COVID, we had five worship services in two different rooms on Sunday morning. And, as we outgrew those spaces, this third phase that we are just completing is a new worship center,” Berg recalled.
The new worship center is a large auditorium which seats 1,220 people, with stadium seating in the back and a sloped floor in the front.
“It is probably the biggest auditorium in Stevens Point. That is our primary worship space now, so we will just be doing services in that one space instead of the two other ones,” Berg explained.
“And then there is a lobby and some classrooms for some very small children.”
The first service was scheduled to be held in the new facilities two days before Thanksgiving for the holiday service.
“It was two years ago at the Thanksgiving service in 2018 that we finished the capital campaign, and then realized that we had enough giving from people to go ahead and do the project. For us, it is fun that two years later the project that we had envisioned and prayed about is now a reality,” he added.
Berg said that the church’s typical attendance, pre-COVID, was 1,600. A large difference from the 150 people the pastor saw at the original church at 301 Dearborn Avenue, Stevens Point, when he arrived in 1990.
Since then, Berg said that the church has seen steady growth at about 17 percent per year, with its most rapid growth 1990-2000, leading to its move to 190 Hoover Avenue, in Plover. Since that day, the church has continued to transform to accommodate its growth in the community.
A dedication service for the completion of Phase 3 will be held Dec. 6, with three open houses on Dec. 7, 10, & 12.