30 Years of Ministry

Church Under the Bridge beneath the I-35 overpass, across from Baylor’s campus, has been a fixture for all living and passing through Waco for decades. The visibility of an outdoor gathering under a major interstate could not be missed.

 Started in 1992 by Jimmy Dorrell, B.A. ’72, M.S. ’93, and his wife Janet Dorrell, B.S. ’80, M.S. ‘02, the church celebrated its 30-year anniversary in September. While the location of worship has temporarily changed due to I-35 construction, the heart of the ministry remains strong. 

“We didn’t go down to the bridge to start a church, we went down to build relationships,” Dorrell said. “We work from a ministry model called Christian Community Development, which is bottom up, rather than top down. It’s about letting our congregants — regardless of where they are in life or what they’re needing — be a part of solutions by empowering them.” 

As the years have passed, Church Under the Bridge continues to welcome one and all to their congregation. 

“Black, white, and brown, rich and poor, educated in the streets or in the university, all serving the same God who makes us one,” Dorrell said. “That became our way of saying, everybody belongs — ex-offender, Ph.D., we don’t care — labels don’t matter.”

When construction on I-35 began over two years ago, TxDOT let the congregation know that the group would need a new place to meet while the new bridge was being renovated. When Chip and Joanna Gaines heard about this predicament, Magnolia offered the Silos courtyard as a meeting place on Sunday mornings for the church. 

Even with the change in location, Church Under the Bridge continues to have a powerful presence in the community with an average of over 200 attendees every Sunday morning. 

“We love that Church Under the Bridge is a place of love and inclusion, regardless of their past. Our members are so diverse, yet we all belong and bring our unique qualities together to serve God,” Dorrell said.  “We are free from most church customs, but the traditions we do embrace are meaningful.”

Church Under the Bridge continues to be a haven for one and all, honoring individuals’ stories and worshiping God in the process.