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Out of the ashes; Family Life Church secures new building

Family Life Church Pastor Amos Self, center, meets with contractors and volunteers inside the new complex the church will soon call home. Self said the church offices will be located at the complex, formerly a rafter factory, starting March 5. Photo by Zach Kayser, Pioneer Journal

After experiencing a devastating electrical fire last fall, Family Life Church in Verndale is coming back with plans to become stronger than ever in its new space.

"It's exciting to see what God is doing," Pastor Amos Self said. "We never would have imagined that we'd be sitting here like this dreaming about what God could do with something this big."

The church has big ideas for its new location at what used to be a defunct rafter factory complex on the east side of town. Self said that for three-and-a-half weeks, a combination of volunteers and contractors has been working hard at renovating the office building, clearing out mold and installing carpet and new ceiling tiles. Self said Family Life's offices will be up and running in the new spot by March 5.

However, that's only the first phase of the renovation plan. Self said the church's next objectives include transforming the old factory's 18,000-square-foot main bay into a new sanctuary, kid's ministry space and gym.

Family Life aims to have the church completely moved from Verndale High School to the new building in June. In 2014, the church hopes to have its own operational Christian school, although Self said he has not yet found a person to direct the school project.

Self recalled Family Life had looked at expanding to the old factory building as far back as last winter, but members thought it was too big, and the church chose instead to add on to their existing building at the time. After that building was destroyed by the October fire, the congregation voted unanimously to move to the factory.

"The unanimous vote ... was just an answer to prayer; just a confirming factor that this is the direction to go," Self said.

Family Life has a goal of remaining debt-free through the entire renovation process. Kenny Kjeldergaard, another pastor with Family Life, said the church was able to buy the factory without going into the red at all, due to the insurance coverage from the fire. He said he's been for moving to the factory from the beginning, and is excited for new possibilities.

"Out here, you've got 12 acres almost," he said.

15-year church member Betty Schlupp said she was impressed with the way church members banded together to work on the renovation.

"It's been amazing how well everybody's come together and worked," she said.

Self pointed out that a church's essence is made up not of walls and windows, but of the people who worship there.

"A building like this isn't a church," Self said. "We are the church."