Property swap benefits two diverse congregations

John Koski

Correspondent

They each had something the other party was interested in. For the Jehovah’s Witnesses it was piece of property on which to build a new Kingdom Hall. For Living Waters Assembly of God it was a church home of their own.

Living Waters traces its origin to 2004 when it held its inaugural Sunday service in the Elkhorn Community Center adjacent to the library.

As the congregation grew, it was able to purchase 6.3 acres on Remer Road with the intention of building a church.

As the years passed, it became apparent that the dream of a church on the Remer Road property was not feasible.

Worshippers raise their hands in praise and thanksgiving during the grand opening service at Living Waters Assembly of God church. (Photo by John Koski)

“We were hoping to build a large ministry center there,” said Pastor Kurt Verhoeven of Living Waters. “We were able to pay for the land and the improvements and our plans had been approved, but we couldn’t raise the money we needed to start building. About three years ago it just kind of flattened out on us.”

Verhoeven noted that Living Waters had improved the site by digging two retention ponds, installing storm sewers and creating a pad on which to build a church.

“It was all ready to go,” he said. “We did everything we could to the land before actually starting to build.”

Meanwhile, the Jehovah’s Witnesses congregation – which was worshipping in a building they had built on Schmidt Road in 1975 – was looking for land on which to build a new and larger Kingdom Hall. Officials from the Kingdom Hall declined to comment on the exchange

Realtor Tom Martin was the catalyst.

“Tom Martin mentioned to the Jehovah’s Witnesses elders that we might be interested in selling the land we had,” Verhoeven said.

As a result, Verhoeven met with several Jehovah’s Witnesses leaders to discuss the possibility of trading the improved land on Remer Road for the land and building on Schmidt Road.

“I went back to our congregation,” Verhoeven said, “and they liked the idea because it gave us a permanent home. And the Jehovah’s Witnesses congregation liked the idea because it gave them 6.3 acres of improved land on which to build a new home with a greater seating capacity and other amenities. It was a win-win.

“It was a win for us because we have a new home,” Verhoeven said. “It’s difficult to maintain a church in a rented facility. We would come to the community center on Saturday nights and it would take us about an hour to set everything up.

“We have eight people on our worship team, so there were lots of cords, microphones, drums, guitars, keyboards and banners. On Sundays, half of our congregation would go into teardown mode because we had to take everything down and put it in storage until the next Sunday.

That all changed on Sunday, Aug. 19, when Living Waters held its grand opening service in its new church on Schmidt Road.

“We should be able to comfortably seat about 120 people,” Verhoeven said. “In addition to the building, the Jehovah’s Witnesses let us have the furnishings – chairs, tables, microwave, refrigerator, sound system, even cleaning supplies. They were good to us.”

“This is a great opportunity for us,” said Eric Groff, worship leader. “It’s difficult when you have a wonderful pastor and great worshippers, but don’t have a building. I’m really excited with what we have here and I can’t wait to see it grow. It’s a wonderful start. My heart has been blessed.

“Going every Saturday night for nearly eight years to set up all of our stuff started to wear on the equipment, as well as my soul,” Groff said. “The equipment was wearing out because it was being moved so much. So this came at just the right time. We are wholly and completely blessed now because the Jehovah’s Witnesses left us some sound equipment and we have our own as well.

“We’ve put up some walls,” Groff continues, “made a space for the children and created a nursery. This is a place we can grow in, and we’ve got so many options here. I’m absolutely thrilled. I could not be happier with what God has given us.”

 

 

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