New church seeks to make impact on Cove
By LYNETTE SOWELL
Joe Bernier doesn’t wear a suit or a tie for church, but jeans and a shirt with sneakers. He doesn’t look like a typical senior pastor, but he has been leading a small yet growing congregation of worshipers each Sunday at 10 a.m. at the Copperas Cove YMCA on Clara Drive.
Cadence Church is a nondenominational church, led by Bernier and Angela, his wife of 19 years, and it opened its doors after more than two years of planning and prayers.
Joe has a bachelor’s degree in business and master’s degree in organizational leadership, both from Southwestern Assemblies of God University. Angela works as an instructional coach for the Killeen Independent School District.
Bernier, a native of Killeen, said he never thought he’d become a senior pastor, but more than two years ago both and he and Angela said they sensed God moving them in a different direction.
“We were at a church in Killeen and I was executive pastor there. I was over the building, grounds, maintenance. We had listed property for sale. While we were listing, part of my responsibility was to look at other buildings, where a church could go. What are the styles of buildings? As I traveled and looked, I decided almost anything could be a setting for church…We could do it in a bar, we could do it in a club, or Starbucks, any kind of building.”
Two years ago, the Berniers took several days to pray about what would come next and believed it was time to work on opening a church, but they were leaning toward the Austin area.
Originally the couple considered Liberty Hill as a location to plant a church, but at the same time they began to look into locations, Bernier said they learned two new church “plants” had been launched that same weekend in Liberty Hill. The cities of Temple and Belton were also ruled out, and Joe came back to Cove, both literally and figuratively.
“We looked at other churches in Cove that might be similar to ours, but they weren’t our expression. They don’t look like me, dress like me, act like me, that kind of thing,” Bernier said. “And I said to God, I don’t’ have the skills or qualifications to be a senior pastor, and He told me, I’m calling you just like you are.
“I knew there wasn’t a church here with our expression, and I knew that God was calling us, and there were people we could reach.”
Angela added to Joe’s remarks about being a diverse, different church.
“When we talk about diversity in ethnicity, that’s one thing, but there are more ways, in backgrounds. By diversity, I don’t mean justifying people’s sin or compromising the Word,” Angela said. “We’re ok with tattoos, piercings, things that… some things that when people who have them, go to other churches and they get the ‘stare’ and the door has just been shut.
“The Lord looks on the heart, He’s not looking on what’s the outside. He does the changing of people’s hearts. We’re responsible for sharing the word with integrity.”
They came up with a vision statement for the church: To bring people closer to God and help them discover their purpose.
Initially, when looking for a location to meet in Copperas Cove, the Berniers met Doreen Vasseur, director of the Armed Services YMCA in Copperas Cove. Vasseur said they weren’t able to rent the facility to use for a church. But then, fast forward to the 2017 National Night Out gathering, their paths crossed again, and Doreen said they could use the facility every Sunday morning.
Angela said the church isn’t trying to duplicate what others are doing, but come alongside groups to help with what’s already taking place. For example, the church is working on a food drive to assist the YMCA with its food pantry. They also helped with the recent fall festival at the YMCA, the Jack-o-Lantern Jamboree.
The Berniers are thankful for other churches and leaders in Copperas Cove who have welcomed Cadence Church, like Church by the Fort, which meets on Sundays at Cinergy Cinema and is pastored by Timbo Fowler.
“They rented the Bill Board for us, right before our first Sunday service at the YMCA,” said Bernier. “We’re not in competition, we’re here to come alongside.”
On Sunday, they plan to have a service at 10 a.m. at City Park and have a picnic following the service. The church’s website is launchcadencechurch.com.