Legacy Series - Full Article
StoneBridge Stories: Legacy Members
As we’re gearing up to break ground on our new auditorium, we wanted to highlight some of the “legacy members” at StoneBridge who have invested long years in our family here. In this very special edition of our Stories series, we interviewed Nancy Humphrey, David Laday, Stef Rowe, and Kelly Wilson.
During each interview, we asked the following questions:
When did you first come to StoneBridge, and how did you find out about it?
What do you love about StoneBridge?
What has kept you here long-term?
What are you excited about in the future?
While each person had their own viewpoint, the common thread we found was that they all love the people here. People are the heartbeat of the StoneBridge family; that’s what makes this such a wonderful place to worship and grow.
Let’s take a look at some of the stories from people who have been with us for the long haul.
Nancy Humphrey has been a long-standing member at StoneBridge for the past 26 years. She first attended with us after receiving an invitation to visit from a co-worker.
“We were looking for another church,” she says, “and we felt comfortable there.
“Our first Sunday at StoneBridge, there were 13 people. That included the pastor and the worship leader. I didn’t know if that was a regular thing or if they just hadn’t built up yet. We kept going back, and it kept growing.”
Though Nancy had been raised in large Catholic churches, she quickly grew accustomed to the close-knit community.
“There was no going back,” she says.
What Nancy Loves About StoneBridge
Nancy says she loves the caring and the camaraderie she’s found in her years at StoneBridge.
“You have your own little groups, but there’s always someone there if you need them. I’m fortunate to be in a group where we’re all widows except for two of us--so we have commonalities.
“I think that people that choose other groups have to find that commonality so they can help each other and understand each other.”
Nancy says the ability to understand one another without judgment is a wonderful feature of small groups.
“You can’t have room for judgment if you want to help someone,” she says.
What Has Kept Nancy at StoneBridge Long-Term?
Nancy has loved being involved and invested in the StoneBridge family long-term.
“I belong here,” she says. “It stretches you to be a part of the community.”
She also loves StoneBridge’s outreach beyond our own walls, both regionally and overseas--in countries like Ecuador, India, and Mexico.
“It’s nice to be here in Omaha, but you’ve got to take that somewhere. It makes you so grateful for what you have,” she says.
For the past year, Nancy has been deeply involved in the lives of her three grandchildren, who are in middle school, high school, and college, respectively. Her daughter passed away unexpectedly last year at age 44, and Nancy has dedicated her time to helping her son-in-law and his children in the aftermath.
“The StoneBridge family showed us kindness through that time,” she says. “They didn’t bombard us, but they wanted us to know they were there if we needed to talk or if my son-in-law needed anything.
“My small group surrounded me with love and caring. They’re always here.”
Looking Toward the Future
These days, Nancy says she focuses primarily on the present rather than the future.
“I don’t know what my future time is,” she says. “I live more in the day-to-day than in the long range.
“I know we’ll expand; we ran out of room the first year we were in the new building.”
As for the present, Nancy is excited about the number of recent baptisms here, including two of the ladies in her small group.
“That just swells my heart up,” she says. “It’s wonderful that they have been touched by what they’ve heard and they want more.”
Though she served on our missions team in the past, including traveling on two mission trips to Mexico, Nancy has brought her volunteer service closer to home in recent years. She volunteers with KidMin, 4th of July celebrations, Omaha Street School, and helps with funeral services.
“I’ve stepped back more as I’ve gotten older, but I enjoy seeing what people are doing,” she says. “I’m enjoying watching the younger generations pick up the torch and carry it forward.”
StoneBridge elder and school teacher David Laday has been part of our family for 12 years.
In 2006, he and his wife, Laura, moved to Omaha from the Minneapolis–Saint Paul, Minnesota area. They invested about seven months visiting different churches, but they had not yet found a place where they both felt welcomed.
On the way back to Omaha from visiting family, Laura got online to search nearby churches--and that’s how they found us.
“We visited the first Easter at StoneBridge, and we’ve been here ever since,” David says.
What the Ladays Love About StoneBridge
One of the first things that caught David’s attention was the sense of community at StoneBridge. Shortly before the Ladays began worshiping here, David spent a lot of time traveling between Omaha and the Twin Cities while they searched for a house. During that time, he visited multiple churches, but most weren’t welcoming.
While unloading the moving truck at their new house in Omaha, he took a lunch break with his brother-in-law.
“We went over to Baker’s to get food,” he says. “While we were walking in the parking lot, we were talking about churches. Someone walked by us and shouted, ‘Try Fort Street Christian!’ It didn’t make any sense to us until we realized StoneBridge was formerly Fort Street.”
When it comes to StoneBridge, David says, the people and the authenticity make all the difference. From the beginning, he was also impacted by the fact that StoneBridge lives its mission.
“I’ve been part of a lot of organizations,” he says. “But I haven’t been a part of any other organization that truly uses its mission statement to drive every decision we make from top to bottom. If it fits that vision, we do it. If it doesn’t fit, we don’t. So that’s really cool.
“We’re real people; we recognize we have real problems/issues everybody deals with,” he says.
What Has Kept the Ladays at StoneBridge Long-Term?
“Our messages are biblically sound, our music is second to none, and our children’s ministry is absolutely stellar. We take pride in the things we do very well and own the things we don’t. And we try to live out that we’re an extension of our family.”
David says the small groups at StoneBridge are a big part of the family connection the church has cultivated over the years.
“If you have a need, you’re not going to call pastor Mark at 2 a.m.,” he says. “You don’t have that kind of relationship with him; you don’t know him that well. But your small group becomes that extension, that connected to the church--the group you live life together with.
“If you aren’t comfortable with calling me at 1 a.m. when you have a need, we still have work to do. We want the relationships to be to that level: you can call me at 2 a.m. if you have a need and we’re going to be there for you. That’s the heartbeat of StoneBridge.”
David also champions StoneBridge’s services, which have been designed with non-churchgoers in mind.
“We build Sunday mornings for a non-believer,” he says. “If someone walks in, they won’t be uncomfortable.
“That’s part of the reason why small groups are so important to how we structure. Small groups are where we go deeper.”
Looking Toward the Future
David says he’s thrilled about StoneBridge’s continued multisite expansion.
“I was nervous about the transformation,” he says. “Before we did our first multisite, I was one who asked, ‘How do we know it’s going to work?’
“Mark said, ‘When God has given momentum, you need to make sure you keep it, because if you lose it, you may never get it back.’”
David’s family has been impacted by the multisite expansion in a positive way. He says they attempted to commute to Omaha with their four young kids, but that wasn’t working well for them. He and Laura were in the process of deciding what to do when Mark mentioned the possibility of establishing a presence in Fremont.
Soon after, StoneBridge acquired the building that is now the Fremont campus, and David’s family began attending that campus.
“We saw Holy Spirit put this thing together; that’s one of the things I’m excited about,” he says. “Wow, where else is this going to go?
David says the multisite campuses “keep the heartbeat of StoneBridge the same for every person, no matter which campus they’re at.”
He says he’s also looking forward to helping develop curricula and teaching opportunities that will help the StoneBridge family dive deeper into their faith.
“It’s rare that I’m speechless, but when it comes to what God’s doing through StoneBridge, it makes me speechless sometimes.”
Kelly & Bruce Wilson
Kelly and Bruce Wilson have been long-time members at StoneBridge since before it was StoneBridge. Around 1993, they moved to Omaha from Lincoln and began attending Fort Street.
“Bruce was always way ahead of me as far as his faith walk,” Kelly says, “and I was a Sunday Christian when I started. I was a really good Christian on Sunday, but it didn’t reflect in my life.”
Kelly and Bruce remember when Mark was hired as pastor, and she says that’s when transformations in the church--and within her--began to occur. The church’s rapid growth inspired her to become more active as a member, and then she found out she was pregnant with their daughter.
“That changed a lot,” she says. “II didn’t want to just practice my faith on Sundays.”
Kelly found the nurturing family relationships she needed here, too.
“God gave me several women who stepped in, mentored me, and showed me what a Christian woman looked like,” she says.
In 1997, Bruce became an elder, where he continued to serve through 2018. Kelly also served as nursery director for a short time. And in 1998, the Wilsons began leading a small group, which they continue to lead to this day. All their children were baptized here at StoneBridge.
What the Wilsons Love About StoneBridge
Like many members here, the Wilsons had experienced issues in many of the churches they’d attended--whether the church was going through a difficult time internally, or going through a split. The feelings of being part of a family and being genuinely welcomed hooked them immediately.
“StoneBridge felt like it was doing and teaching what God wanted: unity,” Kelly says. “Everybody really cares about each other, so they all feel like family.”
“I feel like I belong and I have found this is where God wants us to be. We feel so welcomed and loved.”
Even now, when Kelly works at the Welcome Center, she says she tries to help new guests feel like she did when she and Bruce first came to this church. She says she wants them to feel like “this is home, this is family--we want you just the way you are.”
What Has Kept the Wilsons at SBCC Long-Term?
Over the years, it has been important to the Wilsons to raise their family in the church. Kelly was raised an atheist, while Bruce was raised attending church with his mother. They agreed they wanted their kids to be raised as Christ-followers.
“First, church was just a thing I did because I wanted to hang out with Bruce,” Kelly says. “But when you have kids, you want to have roots--and you want your kids to see that you have roots.”
The Wilsons indeed rooted deeply at StoneBridge, leaning on their relationships with the family here during good times and bad.
“When my son was diagnosed with Muscular Dystrophy, the first place I went to was church,” she says. “The whole church hugged us during that time.”
For the Wilson family, the love and acceptance here at StoneBridge keeps them coming back.
“This church has always accepted and loved us. We sunk our roots into it, and it’s just home. It grew me up as a Christian,” Kelly says.
Looking Toward the Future
The Wilsons are excited about StoneBridge’s continued growth as we continue to open new venues. They’re planning to attend the new Benson campus when it opens, which is closer to their home, and they’re excited about the possibility of sharing StoneBridge with people who live near them.
“We’re excited about the growth,” she says, “We feel like God is blessing the church for being faithful to him.”
Kelly says the initial idea of transitioning from the Omaha to Benson campus was difficult for her. Now, she says she’s excited to get the Benson campus open, get started, and meet new people. She’s also thrilled to have a chance to help spread StoneBridge’s openness and love to a new community.
“We’re a very welcoming church,” she says. “You can’t sit down without having at least five people tell you good morning.
“We’re so happy to have you here, no matter who you are, what you look like, or how you’re dressed. This is where we’re going to love you no matter what.”
Stef & Dave Rowe
Stef Rowe and her husband, Dave, have been members at StoneBridge since 2004. In fact, the first Sunday they attended was the day after they got engaged.
Before the Rowes married, they attended separate churches. Before Stef moved to Omaha for graduate school, she attended Capital City Christian Church in Lincoln, then took a job on staff there. When she moved here, she got a job working on the Fort Street Christian Church staff.
Once Stef and Dave got engaged, they started looking for a place to attend together. That’s how they found StoneBridge.
What the Rowes Love About StoneBridge
Stef says she loves the pastors, children's ministry, and moms’ groups here at SBCC.
“We count Pastor Mark and Linda as friends and pastors,” she says. “Mark is such a conversational preacher--a practical application-driven preacher--and that’s really rare. He’s really smart, but he can talk to all of us and make us understand what he’s teaching.”
The Rowes have two sons, ages 10 and 7, and the family loves the children's ministry staff and the programs we offer for children.
“Our boys were dedicated at StoneBridge as babies and the children’s pastor has been helping us cultivate a love for Jesus in them since they were born,” she says.
The down-to-earth nature of the StoneBridge family drew the Rowes in immediately.
“It’s full of normal people,” Stef says. “It’s a church of everyday people.”
Stef and her family participated actively in small groups for 12 years; in fact, they met their closest friends while leading a small group. Over the last few years, Stef has been part of Moms Next, a group for women with tween-age kids and older.
What Has Kept the Rowes at SBCC Long-Term?
Stef says the people are the number-one thing she loves most about StoneBridge.
“For us to leave StoneBridge would be like leaving our family,” Stef says. “They’re people who have mentored us with our marriage, helped us with our children, given us wedding and baby showers--they are our people, through and through.”
Second, the conversational preaching style has been a factor in the Rowes’ long-term membership. Because Stef sometimes preaches herself, she understands how challenging it can be to fill that role.
Third, the family adores the children’s program.
“To be honest, the older our kids get, the more important we feel the children’s ministry is,” she says. “Our oldest is going to middle school next year, so he’ll be changing ministries. We’re thrilled to be in a church where we know they’re going to get great teaching from birth to adulthood.”
Looking Toward the Future
Stef and Dave currently attend the Millard campus with Stef’s parents, and Stef says she’s excited for more video venues to open in the region outside Omaha, and for the new auditorium as well.
“I’m excited to give more people in our community a convenient opportunity to get to know pastor Mark and see the standard of excellence our children’s programs have, as well as the fun and exciting things our student ministries do,” she says.
“I think our church loves our city well. I think starting more campuses and expanding our current campus is really an expression that we love our city.”