Life has taken Alex Bouffard lots of places, but love has brought him home.
"It's particularly special to start a church in the town you grew up in,” said Bouffard, lead pastor of the newly planted Saints Church. “I have been reunited with several people that I played Green Hornets sports with as a kid. It seems like I have mutual friends with every new visitor at our church."
From ages 7 to 11, Bouffard lived in Shipley’s Choice before moving to Rhode Island. The son of a Navy veteran, moving from place to place was a staple of his childhood. But Severna Park was special. He even met Corrine, the girl who would become his wife, in the area.
All of these experiences helped create the mission of Saints Church: “to love God and love others,” explained the 25-year-old Bouffard. “In so doing, we believe that we are obeying the Great Commission of Christ and blessing the Severna Park community."
Meeting in person has been a staple of Saints Church despite strictures surrounding COVID that have left other churches scrambling.
“Do not neglect meeting together,” Bouffard said, quoting Hebrews 10. “The physical gathering of the saints is commanded in scripture. The unique gifts of encouragement and fellowship require physical presence.”
For young people struggling with isolation, Bouffard encourages a return to tradition.
“Pastoring in Severna Park is challenging and rewarding. We are a pretty educated area,” he said. “As a result, I am consistently met with detailed theological questions. It's a special thing as a pastor to see the amazement on the face of our people as they realize that the Bible has an answer for even the most complex life questions.”
Severna Park has responded with love and generosity. The youthful, Bible-based church already has 40 members and 75 weekly attendees to Sunday services. Moreover, when Bouffard was looking for a place to launch his fledgling church, a local charity stepped up big time.
“Pastor Bouffard came to us in March with a request to rent our hall for Sunday services,” explained George McDowell, exalted ruler of the Severna Park Elks Club. “They were such an impressive organization, we offered the arrangement at cost. Since then, about 10 of their members have applied to become members of the Elks Club.”
Over the last 45 years, the Elks in Severna Park have invested over $3 million in the local community. These contributions include food baskets at Thanksgiving, Christmas and Easter; college scholarships; and annual awards for the local Policeman of the Year and Fireman of the Year.
“We would not have been able to plant our church without the hospitality and generosity of the Severna Park Elks,” said Bouffard, a graduate of Liberty University. “They are like family to our church. We look forward to continuing to partner with them.”