A SPARK IS LIT
For the Northstar Church Multiplication Center, the first drop was provided by a congregation’s willingness to think creatively about its own uncertain future. While never a large church in terms of numbers, University Avenue Congregational Church had always been a strong evangelical church with a big heart for missions and a solid commitment to the CCCC. Some of the CCCC’s most influential people past and present had grown up in or served at the church in some capacity.
As years passed, UACC became largely a commuter church as members moved to the suburbs and attempts to reach the community had limited results. Relocation was discussed from time to time, but it was difficult to know where because members came from many places. After much deliberation, the church concluded that planting a new church was the best alternative. While blessed with generous people who gave faithfully and liberally to ministries at home and abroad, the church decided to ask the Upper Midwest Congregational Fellowship (UMCF) to help them in the planting process.
At a rally in Spring Valley, Wisconsin, the pastor of UACC made the motion to plant a CCCC church somewhere on the east side of St. Paul. Upon approval, a Search Committee was formed and selected Ron Hamilton to plant the new work in Woodbury, Minnesota. Around the same time, the church sent its Sunday School Superintendent, Bruce Pinke, to pastor the South Elmdale Congregational Church, which later planted the Avon Community Church with the help of the CCCC.
UACC eventually became Calvary Evangelical Congregational Church, but a name change couldn’t save the church from closing its doors. Even so, the church’s impact for the Kingdom of God is still being felt. A fund created with the church’s remaining resources to continue paying their missionaries is still being administered today through the CCCC by three trustees selected by the church at the time of its closing. The church building was sold to a largely Nigerian congregation that eventually outgrew the facilities; the building was then sold to a newly forming Baptist fellowship that has a heart for the inner city. But above all else, the planting of Woodbury Community Church has helped church planting become one of the UMCF’s main objectives.
Though the process started small and slow, it is now growing and accelerating through the heightened emphasis on church planting in the CCCC and the addition of strong church planting congregations like Wooddale Church in Eden Prairie, Minnesota.