New church buildings anchor in the Wadena area

Grace Connection and Joyful Spirit United Methodist churches sought to help parishioners grow their roots in new spaces after both locations sold their buildings several years ago. The churches represent the communities of Wadena, Verndale, New York Mills, Deer Creek, Perham, Ottertail and Sebeka.

Colorful stained glass with sunshine and lamb in church building.
The stained glass altar is from the original Deer Creek United Methodist church building. The Wadena and Deer Creek churches combined to form Joyful Spirit after their buildings were sold.
Rebecca Mitchell / Pioneer Journal

WADENA — New church buildings aren’t added all the time but the Wadena area is anchoring two new buildings on Hwy 29 and Hwy 10.

Grace Connection and Joyful Spirit United Methodist churches sought to help parishioners grow their roots in new spaces after both locations sold their buildings several years ago. The churches represent the communities of Wadena, Verndale, New York Mills, Deer Creek, Perham, Ottertail and Sebeka.

After meeting at the Maslowski since 2015, Grace Connection hosted their first service at the Hwy 10 site, 56303 US Hwy 10, in December 2021. Senior pastor Rev. Jeff Heisler said services at the new location have been “wonderful.”

“It has been wonderful celebrating with everyone who has dreamed with us for so long and see all the new faces that are visiting to check out what is going on in the new facility,” Heisler said in an email to the Pioneer Journal.

Joyful Spirit met outdoors at their Hwy 29 location, 61847 Hwy 29, over the summer and moved indoors as portions of the building were functional in the fall.


“I see God’s working in it because when I first approached becoming the pastor here the answer was no,” said Rev. Ricardo Alcoser, pastor of Joyful Spirit since June 2021. He is also the pastor of Ottertail United Methodist Church. “A couple weeks later the answer changed to yes, and so for me that was confirmation that I needed to come here. This is the third time I’ve been involved with church in building projects, so I felt like, ‘Hey, this is a niche that I’m good at.’”

Around the holiday season of giving, Joyful Spirit set out to raise about $150,000 by early 2022. Alcoser said with increased construction costs the project went from $600,000 to $800,000. He added once the funds come in the projects will go fast, much like how quickly the structure came up. The kitchen is the largest project left along with hardwood and carpet flooring in areas of the church building. Church members continuously flow in to help with different projects at the site.


Alcoser hopes the kitchen and fellowship area will be another space for helping feed people experiencing homelessness in the Wadena area and more community events.

“The object is to get it done so that we can get to the work of the Lord, reaching out to others in the community, offering the building if they have a need for it,” said Kathy Techam, lay servant and church member for 49 years.

While the costs delayed the project, Alcoser is excited for the new space to show the unity of the two churches. The church had buildings in Deer Creek and Wadena before hosting services at the First Congregational United Church of Christ in Wadena since 2019.

He said more people have returned to church each week as more elements are added, like bathrooms, heat and electricity. One of their first indoor services in October meant people attended in winter coats, as Techam described. Church services are open to everyone in-person, on Facebook and on YouTube at 11 a.m. on Sundays.

“Patience,” Techam said of how God has been working in the process. “When things don’t go as fast as you think they should and being able to be a part of completing it, he’s given us skills and the ability to work with other people to get the job done.”

Alcoser said the building, location, people working together and the glass windows “make it one church.”


Chairs in the Joyful Spirit church sanctuary.
The new sanctuary at Joyful Spirit United Methodist Church. With the flooring placed, new chairs will be added.
Rebecca Mitchell / Pioneer Journal

“They’re putting the different parts of the two churches into this church so that when people look they can see that it’s not just Deer Creek only or Wadena only, it’s both churches together,” Alcoser said.

At Grace Connection, churches and Volunteer Christian Builders from across the United States helped support the project, purchase materials and construct the new building—aspects the church is particularly thankful for. Heisler said the church partnerships have formed “deep friendship that are of greater value than a simple building.” They came alongside church members who shared their “time, talents, and resources,” as Heisler said, week after week.

“When God wants to accomplish something, He often moves in the hearts of his people,” Heisler said. “I am blessed to have a congregation who pulled out all the stops to move us in the direction God was leading.”

Rows of chairs at the Grace Connection church sanctuary.
The Grace Connection sanctuary can seat 182 people. The location on Hwy 10 is meant to reach people in surrounding communities including Verndale, New York Mills, Deer Creek, Perham, Ottertail and Sebeka.
Rebecca Mitchell / Pioneer Journal
People talking in a small group.
The spacious fellowship area welcomes people to the Grace Connection church building on Hwy 10.
Rebecca Mitchell / Pioneer Journal

With having their own location, the church is excited to host events into the future. The space includes a sanctuary, fellowship gathering area, a donated fireplace and classrooms. The administrative, children and youth rooms and bathroom are being worked on.

Everyone is welcome to join the in-person services at 9:30 a.m. on Sundays, or stop by for a tour then. Sermon recordings are also posted to the church website.

“We hope to utilize the building for all church related events with an emphasis on fellowship. Our building was designed to host events where people can gather for celebrations,” Heisler said. “We emphasis the development of the entire family from the youngest to the oldest. With this in mind, we incorporated a large children’s play area, nursery, and children’s classrooms.”



Epicenter Church purchases their downtown building

With hopes of continued community partnerships, working to strengthen people’s faith and adding to the building, Epicenter Church purchased their downtown location in December 2021. They previously leased the space, at 119 1st St. SE, after forming in 2018 .

The purchase brought extra space where Bows and Bubbles was located, though Fastenal remains housed next door and owned by Kyle Davis of Davis Estates. Bows and Bubbles moved to their Hwy 10 location in August.

Epicenter Church Robert.jpg
Lead pastor Robert Segovia of Epicenter Church excitedly points to their church building sign after they purchased the location in December 2021. The church has met at the location since 2018. Contributed / Epicenter Church

Lead pastor Rev. Robert Segovia said Epicenter is thankful for their central location.

“We love the area, we love being downtown and we love getting to just … be at the heart of the city,” Segovia said.

The church has grown quickly—more than they could predict as Segovia said—and purchasing the building was their next community investment. But they didn’t want to become landlords or acquire debt, Segovia said, which is why the building has split ownership. Davis continues to own the Fastenal portion. If Fastenal decides to move, Epicenter would have the chance to purchase the building first.

“There was a lot of questions that were asked in regards to is it big enough, will we have enough space? Is there a potential that we might end up having other neighbors in the future?” Segovia said. Church members supported the purchase with “very generous” giving in their fundraising for the down payment and surveying costs.

In the future, the church hopes to create more open spaces, which could be through building up for balcony seating. The previous Bows and Bubbles space, a fellowship and teen game area, will also be reworked to blend with the rest of the building. These goals will come after paying off the debt, which is hopefully in about five years.

Epicenter Church Purchase.jpg
Epicenter Church purchased their downtown Wadena building on December 20, 2021. Lead pastor Rev. Robert Segovia, left, Kyle Davis of Davis Appraisals and church member Ron Malone smile for a picture on the day of the sale. Contributed / Epicenter Church

With the financial support of the church, Segovia said God has provided over all these years. He also loves seeing people enjoy coming to church to grow their faith and worship with other believers. The church’s goal is to share the Gospel and have continuing conversations with people.


“I love hearing how people are growing in their faith, and it’s going deeper, it’s understanding that the gospel is not just something that you pray, it’s something that you live out,” Segovia said. “Ultimately the biggest challenge for any church is hopefully not having a shallow church.”

From Wadena to Deer Creek and expanded areas, the churches look forward to connecting more with the communities.

Rebecca Mitchell started as a Digital Content Producer for the Post Bulletin in August 2022. She specializes in feature reporting as well as enhancing online articles. Readers can reach Rebecca at 507-285-7681 or
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