If you build it, they will come.
Bishop Geoffrey V. Dudley Sr., pastor of New Life in Christ Church, saw a cornfield in O’Fallon in 2002 and had a dream.
With a mission to change lives, the retired U.S. Air Force chaplain began with a small group, meeting in a room at the Sheraton Four Points in Fairview Heights. The church opened at its new location at 689 Scott-Troy Road in O’Fallon in 2005.
From 28 people to a congregation of more than 2,000 today, New Life in Christ has become a thriving inter-denominational church, and inspired growth of the nearby Keck Ridge subdivision.
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On Sunday, the church had its second groundbreaking ceremony to complete an expansion project in O’Fallon that was halted in 2015. It had started two years earlier.
Despite assurances from the church that they could meet the financial obligations of the construction loan, the original bank dropped out of the project and construction stopped, according to media contact Daphne J. Dorsey.
The $5.4 million building project is to expand the sanctuary and add elementary school classrooms, said Glenda Dudley, the pastor’s wife.
The work is expected to be completed by April, she said. Holland Construction is the general contractor. A new lender has been secured and church members are committed to seeing the project resume and completed.
“The congregation has momentum. The energy has picked back up after what happened last year,” she said.
In addressing an enthusiastic crowd Sunday, Bishop Dudley thanked them.
“All of you hung in there. This is the work of God. He isn’t finished with us. There is work he still wants us to do, changing lives in this community,” he said. “This is a defining moment in the life of this church. We’re able to bounce back.”
At the “Prayer Breaking Ground Breaking, Our New Life Forward” event, local leaders were on hand, including St. Clair County Board Chairman Mark Kern; County Board Member John West, who represents O’Fallon; and O’Fallon Mayor Gary Graham.
“These are the friends of this church,” Bishop Dudley said.
The success and growth was reiterated by numerous speakers.
“The man’s got dreams. We are proud to have him in O’Fallon,” Graham said.
Kern talked about the importance of growing healthy families in the county. He mentioned Keck Ridge as a vibrant neighborhood that has grown around the church.
“We have a viable and healthy neighborhood and a vibrant and healthy church here now,” he said.
The church stresses “service, souls and significance.”
“We’re life-changers,” Dudley said. “Our growth means we can change more lives. More seats, more souls.”
Dudley, a North Carolina native, was transferred to Scott Air Force Base in 2000, as the chaplain in charge of Protestant Ministry. He retired in 2003.
“The way we can make an impact is in our areas of service,” Dudley said. “Welcome — make everyone feel welcome; Worship, which is very much a part of who we are; and Works, which is going out in the community and impacting change. That’s what matters.”
Dudley, whose ministry work in the Air Force took him all over the country, said this area appealed to him because it was open to faith and family.
“It reminded me of a small town, but also had everything a big city does,” he said.
Dudley and his wife Glenda have two grown children, Geoff Dudley Jr. and Mahogany, who were present at Sunday’s event.
For more information, visit the website, www.nlicic.og, call 618-632-6542 or email email@example.com.