Oct. 1, 2001 I left the Iron Range to move down to Belle Plaine, MN to start River Rock C&MA Church. Oct 1, 2021 I am returning to the Iron Range to be the lead pastor at Emmanuel Baptist Church in Virginia, MN. The Belle Plaine chapter was exactly 20 years of adventure, struggle, blessing, wonderful memories and great friends. We even were blessed to have a new house while we were there. God has been so good to us.
When Covid left River Rock with no place to meet I was concerned about my future. The public school we were renting wouldn’t let us come back and we couldn’t find a place to buy or rent for church. I had been part of Converge (Baptist General Conference) for years before I planted the C&MA church. On October 4, 2020 my friend Mark Bjorlo who planted a Converge church around the same time I planted the C&MA church sent me a Facebook message that said, “Hi Chris, Saw your video. Praying here my friend… Perhaps it’s time to come home (to Converge)” as he saw on the video I was having a hard time securing a meeting place for the church I was serving.
I think it was on March 3, 2021 I was praying asking God what I was supposed to do. Right after the prayer time I opened Facebook the first thing on my screen was this Converge post about Emmanuel Baptist Church in Virginia. When I asked Mark Bjorlo, who was soon to become the district leader of Converge, about seeking an opportunity to serve at that church he said, “Dude. That is a great idea!”
Days later my C&MA District leader was praying about my situation and felt it was time for me to move on to another opportunity. I told Mark about that and he said, “God is up to something, I am so excited for you!”
I inquired about the Virginia church and went through the Converge P3 pastor application process and interview, but didn’t hear back from Emmanuel for a while. I applied and interviewed with other Converge churches and with Evangelical Free Churches during my job search over the summer and met some great people along the way.
September 17-19th we candidated at Emmanuel and the people were so kind to us during our weekend there – we received 98% of the church vote to become their new pastor. I am excited to get moved up there. Another family we are close to said they wanted to follow us up there. We both put our houses up for sale this weekend and got purchase agreements right away. Now we need to find two houses to buy that are big enough for ministry, friends and family in the Virginia, MN area.
Mark was right, God is up to something and this begins a new chapter in our lives.