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The Orchard Invites Oxford Community To Celebrate 10-Year Milestone Jan. 29

This week, The Orchard in Oxford will pass a milestone: “10 years of growing, serving, listening and dreaming together.”

Pastor Pat Ward preaches at The Orchard on a Sunday morning.

Like most 10-year-old birthday parties, there will be cake and balloons and even a photo booth for fun. But underneath the celebration, there is a deep sense of gratitude among members of The Orchard for all the church has seen and been led through over the last decade.
“The Bible verse we have held onto from the beginning is in Ephesians 3,” Lead Pastor Pat Ward said. “It says ‘God, working through us, can accomplish infinitely more than we might ask or think.’ That has definitely been the story of The Orchard inside and out since we started.”
The church began at The Powerhouse on Sunday, Jan. 28, 2007. After a few years there, The Orchard moved into the movie theater, currently occupied by the Malco Oxford Commons Cinema. During that time, they also hosted a night service upstairs in Rooster’s Blues House on the Square.
“After the theater, things got a little interesting,” Ward said.
When the company running the theater at the time went out of business, the church moved into a former funeral home on Molly Barr Road. A few years later, The Orchard needed a larger space and was able to purchase a former funeral home, Hodges Funeral Home, on Highway 7.
“Moving into funeral homes was never in our gameplan starting out on this journey,” Ward said. “It just sort of happened that way.” 
The Orchard has remodeled their current home with the aim of creating common ground with the Oxford community. They have a space dedicated to the arts – North Light Gallery – and have been a featured stop on several of Oxford’s Arts Crawls.
“About the time we moved into this building, we realized that there weren’t many opportunities for the faith community and the thriving arts community to connect,” said Don Ross, Coaching Pastor at The Orchard.
The North Light team worked hard to create a unique space that offers that connection opportunity, and the church is now looking for more creative ventures in the future.
Dave Waddell shares a Bible lesson with the kids at The Orchard on a Sunday morning.

“We started as a new church in Oxford 10 years ago because we saw the spiritual and physical needs of our community,” Ward said. “After our first decade, we realize that although there are many great churches in our city, we still have so many needs. We’re hoping to spend the next decade working just as hard to reach out to those who are far away from Jesus and from a loving community of faith.”
While The Orchard gathers each Sunday morning for acoustic-guitar driven worship music and relevant Biblical teaching, leaders said that the true hearts of the church are on display in through community groups that meet in homes throughout the week.
“It’s in a community group that people actually learn how to experience the life that Jesus has to offer and to become more like him,” Ross said. “We share stories, meals, joys and sorrows, and we watch God radically change people’s lives through these groups.”
The church created a lot of great memories over the span of 10 years. Members of The Orchard fondly recalled those early rented spaces, “beautiful” Easter services in the Grove, and the time Tim Tebow came and almost shut down Highway 7.
The Orchard’s 10th birthday party is open to the public. The party begins at 10 a.m. this Sunday, Jan. 29, at The Orchard. For more information about the church, check out TheOrchardOxford.net or call 662.259.0094. 
Jason Lucas shares some of his writing during the North Light Gallery reception for “Art and Text: A Walt Mixon Tribute.”

Tim Tebow speaks at The Orchard in November 2015

For questions or comments, email hottytoddynews@gmail.com.

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