Pine River New Life Community Church prepares to rise from its ashes
âThe community has come together to say, ‘We want this church to be rebuilt,’ said Senior Pastor Tim Walker. âWe have received favors from all sides. From the chamber to the city council, the business communities, both for the materials we had to buy, but also the contractors received incredibly favorable prices for labor and materials. We also received free use of various pieces of equipment to help us with our volunteer work. “
The new name – New Life Community Church – is a testament to his return. The church remains incorporated as the Faith Assembly of God Church.
The church has received support in many forms. Volunteers helped with the construction and the church served as a training ground for students at Pine River-Backus School.
âThe high school building trades class came from Pine River-Backus High School and learned basic framing and framing skills,â Walker said. “They walked here in the winter from school to learn how to hang Sheetrock and the basics of Sheetrock recording as well.”
The support helped the church achieve one of its goals – to rebuild the building debt-free.
âWe were able to leverage funds from the insurance company as well as private donations as part of the process,â Walker said. âIn between those two, we’re 98% finished right now. There’s technology and acoustic treatments added. Basically, we still have the cash reserves to make anything but a dream come true.
âThat dream is the steeple. It’s just beyond our financial capacity at the moment. As the funds come in, we also intend to allocate them to a steeple at the top of the building, âhe said.
The New Life Community Church was designed with community service in mind. The space has been specially designed to allow the church to be used for Ruby’s Pantry as well as for recreation. Photo submitted (May 2021)Photo submitted (May 2021)
The initial objective was to dedicate the new building on May 23, 2020, on the occasion of the second anniversary of the fire; However, the COVID-19 pandemic has delayed these plans.
âBut in our situation, it actually gave us some leeway,â Walker said. âBecause when we told all the other churches in our community, ‘You can’t come together for worship,’ when we couldn’t meet for worship, we were a building site. So we continue to be able to come together as workers, and so on. those who were able to participate – it has really become a great place of camaraderie and community as we continue. Because at that time we were almost a construction project based only on volunteers. “
The building was designed specifically with change in mind. Walker said it had to be different from the old building and they had to design it for the future.
âWhat does the ministry look like in the future? Walker asked. “And by no means did we foresee COVID, but the opportunity to introduce the latest live streaming technology from all of these parts – I really don’t know that we could have incorporated any of these components into the facility that we had lost. I believe there are about seven miles of communications cable in this building. “
Walker said the building change and name change appear to have attracted other people to the church for services, as well as funerals and other events.
âWe’re here to proclaim the new life in Christ, but we’re here for the community and just this turn to say we’re here for them, not for us,â Walker said. “In the absence of the fire, I’m not sure we would have had the motivation to make this drastic change.”
Photo by Travis Grimler / Echo-Journal.Photo by Travis Grimler / Echo-Journal.
The changes also offered the opportunity to design the building with specific opportunities in mind. The building has an activity room with a small basketball court, as well as a storage room, concrete floor and double doors to accommodate a forklift for Ruby’s Pantry distribution.
The building has a kitchen designed to eventually be certified as a commercial kitchen, allowing meals from the Pine River community to eventually be prepared in Pine River. Currently, Pine River and Backus community meals are prepared at Backus.
Perhaps because there were so many surprising blessings to come out of the rebuilding of the church, Walker said in a way that it is sad that this is coming to an end.
âIt was such a joy to be a place where people came together for the common good,â he said. âAnd there was an energy and excitement in this whole process. And seeing it come to an end means things got calmer here. Honestly, it made me sad. I felt like the skills and the gifts that I have been personally given have been specially designed to be prepared (for this). This is probably what I feel God is telling me just in the weeks after the fire is that , “I’ve had you here for 18 years so you would be willing to carry this church through this journey. ‘”
Walker said he felt almost better prepared to deal with the rebuild than he does to continue now after construction. It makes him humiliated. His work experience over the past 22 years in manufacturing has made him feel fit to help the church rise again, but that same experience is not as directly related to what is to come.
The new building has new features. The sanctuary can accommodate 100 people, the meeting room just inside the entrance can accommodate 50 to 80 more so that it can serve as an overflow for the sanctuary. There are also other rooms that can act as an overflow for the meeting room, and thanks to technological improvements, no one will go wanting.
The New Life Community Church was rebuilt from the ashes of the Pine River Assembly of God Church that burned down three years ago. Photo submitted (May 2021)Photo submitted (May 2021)
The building includes a small activity room / gymnasium and five classrooms designed to serve as emergency temporary accommodation for the New Pathways program in Brainerd while it was still in operation.
The objective was not only to have a new building, but to have one specially designed for the needs and worship of the community.
“And that we recognize that we have received a huge blessing, but it is always for his glory,” said Walker. “And unless we continue to remain dependent on the Lord for His use, both of our lives and of this facility, then it’s just a big box.”
The construction committee of Jim Anderson, Aaron Geinert, Bill Harris (chair) and Walker, as well as architect Jerry Peterson guided the planning and development process, with Peterson leading the project during construction.
The dedication of the New Life Community Church in Pine River will take place on the third anniversary of the fire at 2 p.m. on Sunday, May 23. Tours of the buildings will begin at 1 p.m. The church’s founding pastor, Del Yetley, will speak at the dedication.
Travis Grimler can be reached at 218-855-5853 or [email protected] Follow him on Facebook and on Twitter at www.twitter.com/@PEJ_Travis.