VALDOSTA — Needing a bigger place wasn’t topping Bridge Builders Community Church’s priority list for the new church’s first worship service. But last Sunday as people kept filling the folded chairs in the rented space in a Bemiss Road shopping plaza, church leadership was already faced with the possibility of needing a larger room.

Immediate interest, however, is not a bad problem for a new church to have.

Husband-and-wife co-pastors Daren Waters and Carolyn Waters were pleasantly surprised by the success of that first service.

“We can seat 70 people but we were starting to worry that wouldn’t be enough,” he says.

Daren Waters is a former Air Force chaplain whom, with his family, decided to make Valdosta their home after fulfilling his military commitment. He and Carolyn were both raised in Georgia so Valdosta is a good fit. \

“God has called us here,” he says.

The calling has led the Waters to establish Bridge Builders Community Church, a non-denominational church devoted to bringing a multi-cultural, multi-racial and multi-generational ministry to Valdosta.

“11 a.m. Sunday is the most segregated hour of the week,” Waters says.

He’s referring to the church hour when whites go to white churches, blacks go to black churches, Hispanics go to Hispanic churches, etc. Few congregations here, or anywhere else in Georgia or the United States, are integrated. With Bridge Builders, the Waters hope to offer one of the churches to change this multi-lateral segregation.

“We’re called Bridge Builders because we hope to reach out to all segments of the community,” Daren Waters says.

Filling those chairs last week, the Waters say, were black, white and Hispanic faces of all ages.

“The main mission or our church is to love people,” he says. “Reach out and love people. We’re looking to connect with others. We want to be a voice of support and build bridges to bring people together.”

The Waters have three children: Daren Waters Jr., 15; Darolyn, 8; Dariana, 4.

Bridge Builders Community Church

Where: 3323H Bemiss Road.

When: 10 a.m. Sunday school; 11 a.m. Sunday worship service. 6:30 p.m. Wednesday prayer; 7 p.m. Wednesday Bible study.

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