Back Up The Bridge, Part II: The Bridge at Clover High School – Visited on 9/25/12

 

There is one eminently visible sign in Clover, SC that The Bridge, the Baptist church that meets each week at the town’s high school, is moving up in the world.  At a modest strip mall on Bethel Street in the eastern stretches of Clover proper, in a rental space usually occupied by hair salons and movie rental stores, stands The Bridge’s office.  A blue sign with white lettering announces the office’s presence to passing motorists, while writing painted onto its windows lays out the location and times of the church’s meetings.

Inside, the church office is a wide and empty space.  Chairs, couches and a coffee table stand in one corner, but otherwise the main room of the office is bare carpeting, pale walls and a flatscreen television hung high on the wall opposite the furniture.  A far smaller room opens onto the first, within which Pastor Kevin Witt keeps a desk and sees to the administration of his flock.  Mr. Witt sat his interview with Churchspotting in the main room of The Bridge’s office.  He had not changed noticeably from the young, heavyset man visited in our first coverage of The Bridge in August of 2011.

Kevin Allen Witt was born in January of 1975 in Birmingham, AL.  He spent his youth in and around Birmingham, where his middle class family lived and worked: his mother as an accountant, his father in finance management.  Growing up, Mr. Witt was active in his church youth group and school football teams.  His grades were sufficient, but he now feels he did not fully apply himself in those years.  As a teenager he hoped to study computer science or chemistry.

Mr. Witt attended college at the University of Alabama, where he began studying computer science.  he soon switched educational paths and began studying accounting, with the goal of entering federal law enforcement.  He earned his degree in accounting and continued to study at the University of Alabama School of Law, where he earned his Juris Doctorate.  He went on to spend the next three years as a practicing lawyer in Alabama.

During the second year of his law practice Witt felt called to do something different with his life.  He believed his relationship with God had declined during his studies, and sought to repair that connection.  He came to believe that God wished him to take up ministry and he started looking at seminaries with his then-girlfriend, now his wife.

Rather than act on impulse, he spent the next year researching and preparing for seminary school. After the third year of his practice he enrolled in the next semester of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary at Fort Worth, TX. During seminary he joined a group called Team Church, a church composed primarily of seminary students with the goal of planting new churches.  In the 3-4 years of his involvement with Team Church the group founded twelve new congregations.

In his final semester at seminary Mr. Witt met a missionary from Clover, SC–specifically, from the First Baptist Church of that town.  Witt gained a job through that chance meeting as a minister of education at Clover’s First Baptist Church.  His role at First Baptist was Witt’s first full-time ministry position.

Mr. Witt remains fond of that institution, but he was not there long before he grew convinced that the church was unable to reach large numbers of Clover residents, especially new arrivals to the area.  His plans to ameliorate this weakness culminated in the The Bridge’s founding, first as a satellite service of First Baptist, later as a church in its own right.  The Bridge is currently composed of about 110 members, up from between 80 and 90 last year.  It is a member church of the Southern Baptist Convention.

Though Mr. Witt has never personally experienced visions or the supernaturally miraculous, he has encountered people who believe they were miraculously healed.  He holds that we currently live in the End Times described in the New Testament’s Book of Revelation, with the caveat that these times began with the coming of Christ some two thousand years ago.  He said that “every generation has thought they were the last and was wrong,” and believes that one should prepare for the end of days while accepting that one cannot know precisely when that end will come.

When asked about the proper relationship between Church and State, Mr. Witt said that he believes most Americans do not understand the US Constitution’s historical context.  He described how in the 18th Century the sovereigns of Europe determined the religion of their subjects.  He ascribed the Establishment Clause of the Bill of Rights to a fear, at the time of the nation’s founding, that the federal government might attempt to impose a national religion on the states.  He believes that the US should not attempt to impose any one religion or denomination on its citizens.

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