The Story of Freshwater
In July of 1998, Pastor John felt a desire to explore church planting opportunities. At the time, he was the serving as the associate pastor at Waconia Alliance Church (currently named Parkside Church). After prayerful consideration, he shared his desires with the Board of Elders at Waconia Alliance. They affirmed this decision and started dreaming about the possibilities. Many people at Waconia Alliance had a desire for a church to start in the greater Minnetrista area. After affirmation from the congregation, Pastor John resigned from Waconia Alliance Church in order to start a new church. In October 1998, he left with a dream to start a new type of church.
Here is the initial heart of this new church as written in concept form in 1998:
A church that focused on the needs of the people who made up the church.
A church that focused on the hearts of people.
A church that would utilize technology for the glory of God.
A church where new things could be tried and experienced.
A church that would be totally relevant with the times.
A church where God would be glorified through all things.
Pastor John began to share the heart of this new church and it caught on. Others quickly desired to be a part of this new church. The name “Freshwater Community Church” was chosen and a logo designed. In the middle of October 1998, a launch team consisting of ten people gathered in the basement of his family home in order to lay the foundation from which Freshwater would be erected. Each week the launch team met to work through the “Contagious Christian” small group seminar in order to promote friendship evangelism. The excitement built for the first preview service that would take place on November 15, 1998.
This preview service took place in the former St Bonifacius City Hall, an antiquated 1,500 sq. ft. rented facility. Thirty people were able to experience the first preview service that Sunday morning. From start to finish, the entire service lasted less than 40 minutes.
Each week the launch team traveled to different churches in the Twin Cities area in order to evaluate their services. After each service, the launch team performed a thorough evaluation. The evaluations helped the launch team learn about how other churches minister to their congregations. They also gleaned good ideas that could be implemented at Freshwater. The second preview service took place on December 13th and the third one on January 10th, 1999. Each service was tweaked and evaluated in preparation for the start of weekly exhibition services that would start in February.
By the first exhibition service, a video projector had been purchased. In addition, a band consisting of a guitar player, bass guitarist, flute player, drummer, and three singers were in place. Each week multimedia was used, relevant teaching was presented, and quality music was heard.
On April 4th, Easter Sunday 1999, Freshwater held a grand opening. Special guests, Senator Jen Olson and the Mayor of Watertown, Lynn Hauger, were present for the service. About 80 people, including family and friends, experienced the grand opening service. Unfortunately, attendance didn’t stay at 80. The following week attendance dipped back down to 30, and grew from there as momentum grew. On May 15, 1999, Freshwater Community Church officially voted to organize as an accredited church with the Christian and Missionary Alliance under the laws of the state of Minnesota.
For two and a half years the church rented the former St Bonifacius City Hall. It was the only location in town to meet. It’s amazing that people even tolerated the facility! There was virtually no parking, the single stall bathrooms smelled like urine, and the metal chairs we used were very uncomfortable. There were only two rooms available to use; the upstairs and the downstairs. The kids’ programs were held downstairs and there was no nursery. After one year, Freshwater was able to rent a storage facility next door to the church location and turned it into a nursery when it wasn’t being used for storage.
During this time the church office moved from Pastor John’s basement to a small office space in downtown St. Bonifacius. The office facility was used for meetings, worship practice, and daily business. It gave presence in the community, which was needed.
After 2.5 years, the church moved to its second location. The first location had been rented for $25.00 per week. The new location was going to cost $3,750 per month. It was a radical jump in price, but the space was desperately needed. The new facility provided 6,000 sq. ft. of useable space. This facility was located in the St Bonifacius industrial park. It also had no parking and only one single stall bathroom. The interior was built out to include an office, two classrooms, and a nursery. In this space the church grew in attendance from 125-250. This location was used until 2005.
The third and current location sits on 2.5 acres of land and consists of a single story 20,000 sq. ft. warehouse. The interior was remodeled to provide classrooms, a sanctuary, and Kid City area. In this location the church has grown in weekly attendance from 250 to over 800. The interior space was completely remodeled in 2008 which created more classrooms and larger gathering areas. Freshwater rented additional parking space in 2010 and is currently looking for land or additional space to continue to make disciples. They plan to launch their first multi-site location in 2013. These are exciting times and we look forward to what is ahead.
Freshwater is a growing congregation that is made up of fun and relational people who believe that Jesus Christ is the savior of the world. They strive to live out their faith everyday at home, at work, and within their relational circles. Freshwater is a great place to engage, grow, and share with other people who are passionate about life.