CRYSTAL LAKE – Pastor Michael Wiley’s congregation is a member of the Anglican Church in North America, a part of the Greenhouse Movement, and a Crystal Lake-based church that prides itself on a traditional service.
Less than three years ago when The Bridge got its start, none of that was true.
Through a move leadership says takes them both “across” and “back,” the church – which will hold its first Crystal Lake service on Sunday at its new home in the Grand Oaks building, 1401 W. Route 176 – has taken a step back in the way it practices Christianity at the same time its made a physical move to a new building.
Wiley helped found The Bridge in a for-sale office building in Woodstock in June 2011, at first as an Independent Christian Church. But about a year ago, he started reading more about historical approaches to Christianity and eventually sought a church that would tie together a more traditional service.
“Just the approach, the practice of faith, the practice of worship continues to evolve and change, and I began looking for a more historical approach to Christianity,” Wiley said. “But my main desire was to have a correct approach.”
Wiley found the Anglican Church in North American, or ACNA, and the Greenhouse Movement, a movement within ACNA that helped The Bridge get on its feet.
The congregation, Wiley said, was all for the shift. They went through a two-month discernment process, prayed over it, and eventually the decision was made.
In the last couple of months, Wiley has introduced more and more of the ancient liturgy to the church. Now the liturgy is entirely ancient, although some more contemporary music remains. People have reacted favorably, he said.
“Most all of them were 100 percent for it and excited for it,” he said.
The ability to attract members to the church didn’t drive the decision, but it could be an added bonus.
Wiley has found – and read – that a movement 10 to 15 years ago to more contemporary services might actually be leading Millennials back toward tradition.
Regardless, a more centralized location for The Bridge’s operation has church leadership excited for the future.
“We do pray that the move across and back will put us in a position to ... reach out to the community more,” Wiley said.