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'It's a miracle': New York Mills church dedicates its new building

After seven years of planning, two years of fundraising, and one year of construction, Grace Connection showed off its brand new church building in a dedication service and open house on Friday and Saturday, June 3 and 4.

Grace Connection recently hosted a dedication service for its new building, which the church completed and moved into at the end of 2021.
Grace Connection recently hosted a dedication service for its new building, which the church completed and moved into at the end of 2021.
Elizabeth Vierkant / Perham Focus
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NEW YORK MILLS, Minn. — After seven years of planning, two years of fundraising, and a summer of construction in the scorching heat , the new Grace Connection building — located at 56303 U.S. Highway 10 in New York Mills — is here. To celebrate and share this achievement with the community, the church hosted a dedication service on the evening of Friday, June 3 and an open house on the following Saturday.

"It is fantastic; it's a miracle," said Grace Connection Pastor Jeff Heisler. "You look back and you see where God has blessed you, and you see where He's been. Looking back, you can say God was here, and God was there. You're able to identify his presence and see what He's done for you."

Heisler said God was with the Grace Connection church every step of the way through the new building's construction.

"It has been a tremendous journey to get here," he continued.

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Pastor Jeff Heisler hosts Grace Connection's dedication service on Friday, June 3, 2022, thanking those involved with the new building's construction.
Elizabeth Vierkant / Perham Focus
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After years of planning and construction, Grace Connection's new building now stands complete.
Elizabeth Vierkant / Perham Focus

During the dedication service, Heisler said God helped him find many people along the way who offered help and made the building plans come to fruition.

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One of his first contacts was with Bob and Faye Stockland of the Northwoods Baptist Association, an organization that supports churches throughout northern Minnesota and Wisconsin. The Stocklands made it their mission to travel throughout the South to raise funds for Grace Connection. Heisler also thanked Jeff Hardy, with First Baptist Church from Kimberling City, Missouri.

"(They) brought in enough money that the kitchen was paid for, brought enough people that the cooking was done for, brought enough food that all the food was paid for, all the necessary items for serving," Heisler said. "The list goes on and on. On top of that, they gave us money along the way."

In the end, Grace Connection was able to raise a grand total of $204,321 for the project. More than $112,000 was raised within Grace Connection's own congregation.

"I am guessing — very, very educated guess here — for every dollar we raised in this church, we received a dollar from outside our organization," Heisler said during the dedication service. "Man, you talk about God showing up in an incredible way; that is fantastic."

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Inside Grace Connection's new building is a kitchen and "C.O.F.F.E.E." bar, which stands for "Christ Offers Forgiveness For Everyone Everywhere."
Elizabeth Vierkant / Perham Focus
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Grace Connection's new sanctuary is decorated and equipped with instruments, banners, microphones, TVs, wall art of a map to faith, and more.
Elizabeth Vierkant / Perham Focus

During the service, Heisler said the new building was insured and appraised for $1.5 million. The church didn't need to pay nearly that much to build it, however, thanks to the assistance of many generous people.

"It's just a tremendous thing," Heisler said. "Certainly I'd like to say 'thank you' to everyone who's participated, but we just give credit to God. That's the way that it worked. We can sit here and tell stories about the ways God showed up to save us tremendous amounts of money being able to do this. They all came along at just the right time in a time like this."

While fundraising was taking place, Randy Mohs of Grace Connection took time out of his days to design posters for the cause. He also went out of his way to draft a blueprint for the new building, so all the church had to do was submit it to a drafting company.

According to Heisler, it would have cost about 4% of the total building cost to pay an architect to draft plans for the church. By that math, Mohs' contribution saved the church about $60,000.

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Another large expense when it comes to building a new church is the cost of labor needed for construction. That's where Volunteer Christian Builders and Johnny Coffman with Flint Baptist Church — both from Texas — come in.

The majority of construction was done by volunteers, including the church's HVAC system and trusses. The first trusses that were built for the church unfortunately fell over; when that happened, Coffman and his team flew back from Texas again to build them all over.

"We didn't pay for their plane tickets, they did," Heisler said, with gratitude. "We didn't pay for their hotels, they did."

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The entrance of Grace Connection's new building features a cozy stone fireplace and comfortable seating.
Elizabeth Vierkant / Perham Focus

Grace Connection moved into its new building after construction was finished in December 2021.

The new church is complete with a lobby, fireplace, kitchen, offices and a decorated sanctuary with instruments and microphones. TVs sit in front of soft and cushioned sanctuary chairs so that church-goers can follow along with scripture or song lyrics on the screens. At the front sits a large, baptismal font, with banners honoring God behind it. A map toward Christian faith is painted on the walls, with a wooden vaulted ceiling overhead.

Heisler invites anyone who'd like to attend Grace Connection's services to stop by for a visit.

"Our doors are open for anyone who wants to come, and we appreciate seeing them," he said.

To learn more, visit mygraceconnection.com or visit the church's Facebook page, @GraceConnectionChurchNewYorkMillsMN .

Elizabeth (she/her), 23, graduated with a degree in Journalism and Communications from the University of Wisconsin–Stout in 2020. Elizabeth has always had a passion for telling stories about people and specializes in community features, which she uses for her Perham-centered content.
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