New home nears for RiverLife Church

BRADENTON — This Sunday will be the last Easter that Pastor Jerry Jeter and his congregation celebrate at Bashaw Elementary School.

By Easter Sunday 2010, the RiverLife Church will have its own home just up Morgan Johnson Road.

“We’re enjoying our time there” at the school, said Jeter, pastor for the past nine years. “But we’re excited about the opportunity to move into our new facility as well.”

The church has deep roots here, begun in 1914 as the Bradenton Church of God.

Its original location was in East Bradenton at Seventh Avenue East and 17th Street East, where the congregation worshiped until 1952.

Then the church relocated to Manatee Avenue East and 10th Street East until last year.

“We moved because we didn’t have room to expand,” said Jeter, noting that they have about 200 congregants.

“The new location has enough property.”

The plans are for an 11,000-square foot building on 14 acres on the west side of Morgan Johnson Road, just south of State Road 64 East. It will include a sanctuary, children’s facility, classrooms and offices.

Construction should begin this summer, according to Miles Gentry, principal planner with the Manatee County Planning Department.

The church received initial zoning approval last October; its site development plan, which the county received in March, is presently under review.

The church changed its name in February 2008 when it took up temporary quarters at the school.

“The name change came about because we’re entering a new season,” Jeter said. “And we felt like it was a name that connected with our community and represents who we are as a congregation.”

The church’s Web site is

Vin Mannix, local columnist, can be reached at 745-7055, or write him at Bradenton Herald, P.O. Box 921, Bradenton, Fla. 34206