The church is not the building, but it is the people who utilize those God-given facilities to minister to those who need to hear the truth of the Gospel.
While church buildings offer a place for people to gather for those ministry opportunities, at times the building itself can become a ministry, as has been evident in a metro area building known as Central Mission Church.
According to its pastor, Ike Kingson, the Depression-era building has served the community for decades, but in recent years the church has seen a decline in membership.
Rather than opt to move to a different location, the congregation came up with a different idea that could meet its needs, as well as the needs of another congregation. Central Mission Church offered to have Zion Evangelical Church utilize its sanctuary Sunday mornings, while those from the Central Mission congregation would meet Sunday mornings in a new worship area developed in the basement of the building. To make that transition happen, the church needed help, and a local group recently made the trip to the St. Paul area to minister to the people by getting their hands dirty helping to prepare the basement to be used for Central Mission church activities.
A group of individuals from the Redwood Alliance and Echo Alliance Churches, including Pastor Tim Dean, Nancy Dean, Deborah Ingle, Tim Ingle, Keegan Bengtson, Mik-hayla Kates and Caleb Krause spent four days (July 7-10) working with the church.
Tim Dean said he heard about the opportunity during the den-omination’s district conference, adding Nancy felt the burden and did the legwork to get the project initiated and the trip planned.
Tim Dean said the opportunity for kids in the two churches to get out of their comfort zone and to see a different culture was one way the church could help them to see their world was bigger than the Redwood area.
Zion Evangelical Church is an Ethiopian congregation, and its services are conducted in an Ethiopian dialect, Tim Dean said.
He added the fact that the congregation was so willing to give up what is a very beautiful sanctuary to someone else is a great example of sacrifice and commitment to doing God’s work.
In addition to helping with the work of preparing the basement, the group from the Red-wood area met with the youth from the Ethio-pian church.
Kingson said part of the reason for the two congregations coming together was the youth, as the younger generation, the first or second born in the United States, and because many of them speak English there is a need for them to connect with others who speak that language, too.
Kingson said the congregations are hoping to get the kids connected together and having the two congregations in the same building makes that an easier effort.
Page 2 of 2 - “It was nice to be able to get out and help somewhere else,” said Deborah Ingle, adding the group did everything from painting to cleaning.
The youth said as they met together with those whose cultural identity may be different, but in the end they discovered they were teens just like them.
Tim Ingle said the group is talking about going again in the future to possibly help more and to see the area when it is done.
Kingson said the hope is to have the new worship area finished sometime this fall.
“Having groups like this come in is a huge blessing,” Kingson said, adding the members of the two congregations have been working hard to make the transition happen. “This group worked hard and did everything we asked them to do. They came and saw the need and got to work asking how they could help and they did it.
“Their attitude of service was very en-couraging and challenging for us, too.”
Tim Dean said as is typically the case with a mission trip like this those who attend plan to go to help others and to bless them, but in the end they receive just as much or more of a blessing from the ex-perience themselves.
All of the youth said they would like to do something like this again, and said they would encourage others to get involved in projects like this, too.