The United Methodist Church in Wadena has been sold to an anonymous benefactor, hopefully allowing the church to move forward with construction of a new building between Wadena and Deer Creek.

That new church building will be known as the Joyful Spirit United Methodist Church, and after this church sale, more and more parishioners are using a different reference for the church body.

"Our congregation," is something parishioner Kathy Tecahm has been hearing more and more. "It's not your church and my church, it's our church."

This was a mix of Wadena and Deer Creek church members. That's after the United Methodist church in Deer Creek was sold in 2018 and now, the United Methodist church in Wadena sold just last week. To get to that point took a prayerful journey. With the sale of both buildings, the two congregations are moving forward -- as one -- to build a structure they can use to continue their local mission, if a vote passes to build new.

The church body had their last day in the Wadena church building Sunday, Aug. 25. Pastor Amy Dinkel-VanValkenburg said it was a sad but joyful service as the entire group gathered to ask any questions for the future and remember the many memories held in that historic church.

The congregation is able to continue services at the First Congregational United Church of Christ (UCC), at 110 Colfax Ave. SW, starting on Sept. 1 with worship service at 11 a.m. VanValkenburg was appreciative to the UCC for their willingness to welcome the church in and use space in their building.

It's a truly unique situation that gets even more unique as the two congregations will have a joint fellowship time in the shared space at 10:30 a.m. on Sundays. Joyful Spirit will also meet at the Deer Creek Community Center every fourth Sunday at 11 a.m. That's the schedule moving forward until the (not yet approved) construction project starts possibly later this fall.

The congregation is set to vote on the new construction Sunday, Sept. 15, following the worship service. Joyful Spirit church member Kathy Techam said the parishioners have been mostly agreeable to the sale of the properties, she and Pastor VanValkenburg believe the vote should also be positive to move forward with construction.

A blueprint of the proposed Joyful Spirit United Methodist Church to be built near Blacks Grove Park.
Image courtesy Merickel Lumber
A blueprint of the proposed Joyful Spirit United Methodist Church to be built near Blacks Grove Park. Image courtesy Merickel Lumber

A contractor has already been selected, J&R Construction in Verndale. They're looking to construct a one story, mostly all one level structure on a site about one-quarter mile west from the Blacks Grove Park road in Compton Township just off Hwy 29. The building committee toured other churches in the area to come up with a plan of the style of the church they would need.

Driving out of Wadena just west of Blacks Grove Park road, you'll see a new sign indicating the site of the future Joyful Spirit United Methodist Church. If approved, construction of a slab and driveway may begin this fall.
Submitted photo
Driving out of Wadena just west of Blacks Grove Park road, you'll see a new sign indicating the site of the future Joyful Spirit United Methodist Church. If approved, construction of a slab and driveway may begin this fall. Submitted photo

The church plans to build the building in phases as funds are available. The main focus is accessibility, a building that all abilities can access. It's also friendly to service dogs as the church has two regular attending service dogs.

A sign has been installed marking the location of the new building. Pastor VanValkenburg was delighted with the property, a 5 acre site mostly on a bean field, with access to a creek. She envisions the property being a blessing for many years.

"I can see retreats and campfires and s'mores and prayers and singing ... " VanValkenburg said.

Pastor Amy performed a blessing ceremony on the new property, Tuesday, Aug. 26, the same day the purchase of the property went through.

"The timing was perfect, although none of us felt like the timing was perfect," VanValkenburg said. The work to get to this point has taken a great amount of prayer and faith.

"It's all in the Lord's hands and it's going to happen when it happens," Techam said of the task of selling two church buildings and planning to build new. The congregation has been blessed through the process of uniting two church bodies and one of the recent blessings was the sale of the building to an anonymous benefactor, who bought the Wadena church building in order to allow the church to move forward with their new church building. Techam said that benefactor plans to resell the building.

"The anonymous benefactor's agenda, is our agenda," VanValkenburg said.

VanValkenburg said this construction project is looked at as missionary work.

"It's not just building a building, it's building a following for Jesus Christ," she added. It's in line with the Minnesota United Methodist Conference, which has a mission to grow in love of God and neighbor, to reach new people and to heal a broken world.

The church is hosting a sale Sept. 10-12 selling off goodies from the church. Some items the church is holding onto will move into storage for the time being.

The churches PO Box remains the same and the administrative offices will move to the United Church of Christs's administrative building after September 15.