When Robert Connatser from the River of Life Church was praying for direction for the church, he said the Lord spoke one word, “Midtown.”
Connatser explained that about three years ago, he felt like the Lord was moving the congregation, so they put their property on East Broadway up for sale. He said they did not know where they were going, but they had faith that God would lead them.
“I felt a little like Abraham,” Connatser said. He said it took about a year for their property to sell and, unsure where the members of the church would meet in the future, he began to pray.
“Where are we going?” Connatser asked in his prayers. “Midtown” was the response that Connatser heard. He said he was not entirely sure what that meant at that time, but the congregation needed some place to hold services. He asked the owners of the property in downtown Maryville on Broadway if the church could meet there. Several months later, the property owners asked if they wanted to buy the location at 123 W. Broadway. Initially, they declined because they thought about building a new facility. More prayers were lifted up, and Connatser said they met with an architect to discuss renovating the property.
“God worked everything out for us,” Connatser said. They bought the property and during this past year, renovations on the 10,000-square-foot space have been taking place.
According to Connatser, the wood veneer on the exterior was removed and replaced with a brick facade. Windows were also added to provide light and an appealing aesthetic.
“We wanted to make it really nice, to look good for the Lord and to make it look good for the town,” Connatser said. He said the first floor renovations are complete which included replacing all the heating and air conditioning units. Work is in progress for the second floor renovations, which will be home to the children’s ministry, the nursery and a kitchen. The third floor will be dedicated to the youth ministry, and a spring completion date is projected. Future plans for an open house to showcase the renovations are in the works.
According to Connatser, he is becoming more aware of the reason he believes that God was urging the church to move to Midtown.
“We are where we’re supposed to be,” Connatser said. “We want to do something in the business and government community.” He said they are praying for the government officials who are logistically close to their church. He said the decisions that are made in the buildings surrounding the church effect everybody in the county.
River of Life Church is a charismatic word of faith ministry, Connatser said. He said they believe the tenets of the Bible, and they want to see the Spirit of God move within the congregation and among the community.
“We want to see people get right with the Lord and walk with the Lord,” Connatser said.
River of Life Church offers a television ministry on WVLR with a program, “Third Day Living” which airs on Thursdays at 7:30 p.m. and on Fridays at 9:30 a.m.
A bookstore that is open to the public is located on the first floor of 123 E. Broadway. It is open Monday through Friday from 9:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
Praise and worship services at River of Life Church are on Sundays at 10:30 a.m. and on Wednesdays at 7 p.m.