ST. PAUL, MN (April 21, 2015) — When Awaken Community Church relocated to a new building last month, they received some remodeling help from a church in Wisconsin.
Dave Johnson, outreach coordinator at Cedarbrook Church, a Covenant congregation about 60 miles east of St. Paul in Menomonie, Wisconsin, has been helping to coordinate the renovations. He runs a nonprofit called NEXT International, which helps coordinate groups to do service projects, such as remodeling construction work, both domestically and overseas. Johnson also has connections to Awaken: his niece is a ministry intern there.
Since the church was started five years ago, Awaken has been meeting in a comedy club. The new location is a former Catholic church that stood empty for a few years after its congregation merged with another parish.
Johnson was excited for the change in venue and what it could mean for the future of Awaken. “Now you have a very alive and active and outward-looking congregation in this beautiful old structure,” he said.
Together with a couple of his assistants Johnson has helped with several projects since renovations began in January. He also led a team of about fifteen people from Cedarbrook to help over a weekend in February. The team stayed with Awaken members, and finished their work weekend by worshiping with them on Sunday.
The two pastors met several years ago when Diederich became Witham’s church-planting coach.
Awaken raised about $60,000 for the remodel, Witham said. Most of the work was done by volunteers and friends from the Awaken community, though they did contract with another company to set up a new sound system and hired professionals to do things like electrical work.
Johnson said renovations in the sanctuary included new carpet, a new welcome kiosk, and setting up an art gallery space. Awaken’s comedy club roots inspired some of the renovations, said Witham, such as removing the first ten rows of pews and replacing them with tables and chairs.
The choir loft was converted into office space for staff, with the layout being designed around the pipe organ, which was left in its place. Additionally, the basement fellowship hall was converted into classrooms for a children’s ministry space.
Most of the major renovations were completed before Awaken’s first service in the new building last month.
Projects like this are not a new thing for Cedarbrook staff. “We do something quarterly as a staff,” Diederich said, whether that’s a service project or a fun team-building activity. Cedarbrook has also partnered with other churches for special projects. “There are a number of churches within an hour radius of us that we try to help out,” Diederich said. “We try to stay connected to some of the churches that are closer to us.”