From its perch on a gentle rise overlooking the land and neighborhood from which it draws its name, Stephens Valley Church (SVC) provides an inviting and inspiring space where people can reconnect with what matters most.
That means serving the spiritual needs of a congregation that has grown from a few dozen gathered in a school room to nearly 450 members convening in a brand-new building in Bellevue’s newest neighborhood.
“We wanted to grow and expand our ministry and couldn't do that in a school room," says Senior Pastor Jim Bachmann. “We looked at several locations and saw potential for that here, where we had an existing relationship with a developer. Then, one thing led to another.”
The church that eventually became SVC met for the first time in November 2016 in a Brentwood hotel meeting room under the name of Westminster Chapel. In 2017 it relocated to the aforementioned school room at Julia Green Elementary in Green Hills where it remained until moving to its current location at 6000 Pasquo Rd.
Once the church’s building committee, headed by David Jones, settled on the parcel of land in Stephens Valley, the call went out to raise funds to secure the location. The congregation stepped up in a big way, raising $1.4 million in a matter of weeks.
“We see our church as growing with Bellevue,” says Jones. “Everything is happening here with good, positive growth.
“Stephens Valley is in our name because we want to be seen as a good neighbor and part of the community. There are a lot of young families and kids here. That’s part of what drove us. We wanted to be accessible to them.”
The first service was held in the new location in early March 2020, just two weeks before the onset of the pandemic. But SVC’s sphere of influence grew during the ensuing weeks and months. Perhaps it was coincidence. Or maybe something greater intervened.
“It was a terrible time for everyone as many people died while others lived in fear,” says Bachmann. “But people were able to visit churches remotely. In some ways the ministry of the church expanded through streaming.
“It was strange, preaching to a camera. But I learned, after the fact, that people discovered Stephens Valley Church on YouTube. In one sense, God closed us down and in another he opened us up. God is always at work, and He brought something good out of something bad.”
SVC is a non-denominational church, driven by the gospel. While its mission is to grow – SVC recently welcomed 14 new members – Bachmann understands that it’s not necessarily for everyone. “We’ll take any new member that wants to come but we don’t want to take people from other churches where they’re happy and being fulfilled spiritually,” he says.
“Churches are changing these days and there are people searching for a more conservative theology,” says Bachmann. “Our worship services are liturgical and lively, traditional and fresh. We are blessed to have a great choir with monthly accompaniment from brass and string ensembles. The choir performs at least two annual concerts – one with a patriotic theme, the other for Christmas – to overflow crowds.”
The life of Stephens Valley Church is grounded in its worship services. In addition, there are a variety of social and study opportunities available. Wednesday Night Dinners feature food and fellowship. Parents Day Out allows working parents to drop off their children at the church for a morning of Christian-inspired activities. Bible study sessions for men and women are scheduled throughout the week and Bachmann teaches a class for new members.
“The hub of our wheel, the energy behind what we do, is to preach and teach the word of God,” says Bachmann. “We minister to people the same way, whether they’re just getting into the batter’s box or rounding third because, frankly, all of us are just scratching the surface.”
Currently all worship services take place in the Fellowship Hall, but longer-term plans call for the addition of a dedicated sanctuary along with a youth and children’s center.
Until then, Stephens Valley Church will continue to serve the spiritual needs of its active members while being a good neighbor to the surrounding community.