• 73°

The Orchard church in Oxford celebrates 10 years of growth

By Pat Ward

Special to The Eagle

This week, The Orchard in Oxford will pass a milestone: 10 years of growing, serving, listening and dreaming together.

Like most 10-year-old birthday parties, there will be cake and balloons and even a photobooth for fun.  But underneath the celebration, there is a deep sense of gratitude for all that the church has seen and been led through over the last decade.

“The Bible verse we have held onto from the beginning is in Ephesians 3,” Lead Pastor Pat Ward said.  “It says ‘God, working through us, can accomplish infinitely more than we might ask or think.’  That has definitely been the story of The Orchard inside and out since we started.”

The church began at The Powerhouse on the last Sunday of January 2007.  After a few years there, The Orchard moved into the movie theater currently occupied by the Oxford Commons Malco.  During that time, they also hosted a night service upstairs in the Rooster’s bar on the Square.

“After the theater, things got a little interesting,” Ward said.  When the company running the theater at the time went out of business, the church moved into a former funeral home on Molly Barr Road.  A few years later, The Orchard needed a bigger space and was able to purchase a larger former funeral home on Highway 7 North.

“Moving into funeral homes was never in our gameplan starting out on this journey.  It just sort of happened that way,” laughs Ward.

The Orchard has remodeled their current home with the aim of creating common ground with the Oxford community.  They have a space dedicated to the arts — North Light Gallery — and have been a featured stop on several of Oxford’s Arts Crawls.

“About the time we moved into this building, we realized that there weren’t many opportunities for the faith community and the thriving arts community to connect,”  Don Ross, Coaching Pastor at The Orchard, said.

The North Light team worked hard to create a unique space that offers that connection opportunity, and the church is now looking for more creative ventures in the future.

“We started as a new church in Oxford 10 years ago because we saw the spritual and physical needs of our community,” Ward said.  “After our first decade, we realize that although there are many great churches in our city, we still have so many needs.  We’re hoping to spend the next decade working just as hard to reach out to those who are far away from Jesus and from a loving community of faith.”

While The Orchard gathers each Sunday morning for acoustic-guitar driven worship music and relevant Biblical teaching, leaders say that the true hearts of the church is on display in our community groups that meet in homes throughout the week.

“It’s in a community group that people actually learn how to experience the life that Jesus has to offer and to become more like Him,” Ross said.  “We share stories, meals, joys, and sorrows, and we watch God radically change people’s lives through these groups.”

A church creates a lot of great memories over 10 years.  Members of The Orchard fondly recall those early rented spaces, beautiful Easter services in the Grove, and the time Tim Tebow came and almost shut down Highway 7.

The party is open to anyone who wants to come. It starts at 10 a.m. Sunday at The Orchard. For more information about the church, check out TheOrchardOxford.net or call 662-259-0094.

One of the many highlights over the last decade was athlete and sports analyst Tim Tebow speaking at The Orchard in Oxford.

One of the many highlights over the last decade was athlete and sports analyst Tim Tebow speaking at The Orchard in Oxford.