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New church launches Sunday in Farmington

Farmington residents Jeff and Kristie Kerr hope to eventually bring a new church to downtown Farmington’s iconic Exchange Bank building

The thing about starting a church from scratch is, finish lines and starting lines can start to look an awful lot alike.

Jeff and Kristie Kerr have one big finish line coming up Sunday evening, when they will hold the first official services of their new Homestead Community Church. And while they’ll be relieved to see this project they’ve worked at for so long actually take form, they know it’s really just the beginning.

Now that they’ve raised the money and found a location and put together a group of people willing to take this step with them, they have to worry about things like what it means if nobody shows up Sunday. Or, maybe even worse, if lots of people show up for the first service, then nobody comes back the following week.

As the day approaches, the Farmington residents find themselves both excited and nervous.

Jeff and Kristie have been involved in the ministry since they graduated from college. They did a lot of work with music and video production at churches around the Twin Cities. In 2011, they founded Fourth Floor Ministries, a consulting ministry that works with churches on their music programs or Christmas pageants or whatever other creative projects churches needed help with.

They were there to help as churches looked beyond traditional hymns to create more contemporary services.

“There’s almost always a musical component (in church),” Kristie said. “If you don’t have a professional … that falls on the laypeople in the church. We always felt like it was so great to be able to come in and help.”

They liked the work, and liked getting involved at a variety of churches, but they also learned quickly that they missed the connections that come with being a permanent part of a congregation.

“We missed being part of a church family because we were at a different church every Sunday,” Jeff said.

The solution? Start your own church.

With help from Cedar Valley Church in Bloomington, one of the places they had previously worked, the Kerrs set out to make that happen. They traveled to other churches to speak and ask for donations, and they put together a core team of about 50 people that started meeting in November to put everything together. Jeff and Kristie excel at creative projects. They looked to others for what they called the grown-up work that goes into starting a new congregation — the plans and the schedules and the finances.

They have gotten a lot of support from Farmington’s Christian Life Church, which like Homestead is an Assemblies of God church.

The couple also started looking for a home. When it came time to find a city for their new church, it just made sense to keep it in Farmington, where the Kerrs have lived for the past 11 years.

While Homestead will hold its first service Sunday at Faith United Methodist Church, the Kerrs are negotiating to buy the Exchange Bank and Larson buildings in downtown Farmington. The buildings’ owners have offered to sell them on a no-down-payment contract for deed, and the Kerrs say they’re close to reaching a deal.

If the deal works out, Homestead will hold services in the grand ballroom on the second floor of the Exchange Bank and use other parts of the buildings for children’s classes and other activities. They hope to eventually bring in as many as 300 people for each service.

“We love the idea of bringing a bunch of people downtown,” Kristie said.

The people who come will find a church the Kerrs say will be a mix of contemporary and traditional. They want a place where people of all ages will feel comfortable. That’s the idea of the homestead — a place where multiple generations of a family settle.

“We want it to be intergenerational,” Kristie said. “We want old people to feel comfortable and younger people to feel comfortable. We want it to feel like home.”

It’s an effort that’s just beginning.

Nathan Hansen

Nathan Hansen has been a reporter and editor with the Farmington Independent and the Rosemount Town Pages since 1997. He is very tall.

(651) 460-6606
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