Last week, I went to the celebration of a new church in the Northern Twin Cities Suburbs. Chain of Lakes Church is a new church development of the Presbyterian Church (USA) located in Blaine, MN. The church has been meeting for a few years and earlier this summer, the Presbytery of the Twin Cities Area (the local body of the PCUSA) purchased land for a future church building. So, this wasn't a groundbreaking as much as a claiming of the ground as a place where God's healing will take place.
Paul Moore, the pastor of Chain of Lakes, took the opportunity in a sermon/speech to get folks to imagine what God could do with the people that make up Chain of Lakes. I want to share a bit of his speech:
Just down the road from here is Lino Lakes Elementary STEM school. We’ve been serving that school for over a year. This past summer about ten of us from our new church took a morning to paint the inside of the school walls. The principal, Ron Burriss, had shared with me that he was going to do the painting this summer himself. It didn’t seem right that a principal of a school should have to paint alone. A group of us from Chain of Lakes New Church partnered with him to paint the inside of the school. We’ve also sent mentors into that school to build relationships with kids who need help; we’ve sponsored parenting seminars there. The backpacks that we’re collecting tonight will go to help children at Lino Lakes Elementary STEM who need them. One of the beauties of starting a new church is we have such an opportunity to see a big impact on families. Three fourths of our congregation were not connected to a faith community before they came to Chain of Lakes New Church. We’ve witnessed wonderful stories of blessing.In our short history we had a man give up alcohol. The people of our new faith community were a source of encouragement and support. We’ve witnessed a woman experience God in a dramatic way—she gets up before sunrise to read the Bible because God is propelling her to get out of bed.The first baptism in our new church was an adult baptism. A man who had not been involved in a church gave his life to Christ on our first Easter.
We’ve been blessed by our Presbytery; we are blessing a school and the people in our own new church have been blessed.
Now we look to bless the people of this neighborhood.
I know in these days when there isn't much money to go around, the desire to plant new churches seems like a waste of money that might better spent on the homeless or something. But new churches provide an opportunity to provide hope and healing to people. Chain of Lakes has blessed its community by helping a school and helping someone get off alcohol. That may have not a happened had it not been there.
What I'd like to see in the Upper Midwest Region are sustainable communities that are making a difference in people's lives. I have heard the stories from Stephen and Rebecca Haney about how they are reaching unchurched people in Rochester, MN. I've sat down with a clergy couple in North Dakota who have plans to plant a new ministry just north of Fargo, that will touch families with the love of God. I hear it in the words of a commissioned minister who chomping at the bit to plant a church in Woodbury, MN which will reach out to people in the Eastern Twin Cities and will also provide a place for people with addictions to make those first and ongoing steps of sobriety.
I believe the Spirit is moving accross this Region to raise up folks who are in the business of blessing people. I'm excited to see where God will lead these church planters and what impact it will have on the whole Region.