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New church brings people together

St. Croix Valley Wesleyan Church campus pastor Dr. John Zimmer hopes to bring people into a relationship with Jesus Christ. Services are held on Sunday at 10 a.m. at the Crossings Inn and Suites. <i>Jillian Dexheimer photo</i>

A new church is forming in River Falls -- St. Croix Valley Wesleyan Church. It meets Sundays at the Crossings Inn and Suites, 1525 Commerce Court (near ShopKo).

A member of the National Association of Evangelicals, the church was formed by members of a Bible study group who decided they wanted to start a church.

After about a year and half of debating, the members contacted Oakdale Wesleyan Church in Oakdale, Minn., about becoming a satellite location -- though they are still considered an independent church.

In January, the associate pastor in Oakdale, Dr. John Zimmer, agreed to become the St. Croix Valley Wesleyan Church campus pastor.

Zimmer has been a pastor for 43 years. Before being the associate pastor for Oakdale Wesleyan Church, he worked for the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association in the Christian Guidance Department.

According to Zimmer, the goal of the St. Croix Valley Wesleyan Church is to create a "...redemption center, and bring people into a relationship with Jesus Christ."

The church has many aims for its congregation. "We would like to have a Bible-believing church with good, solid theological preaching," Zimmer said.

To reach its goals, St. Croix Valley Wesleyan Church has united with the Oakdale Wesleyan Church. It has created a unique partnership -- Oakdale Wesleyan Church Pastor, the Rev. John W. Baker, delivers the sermon in Oakdale. The DVD of that sermon is then watched the following Sunday in River Falls.

"We save time and money doing it this way," said Zimmer.

A look at the Wesleyans

The Wesleyan Church is an offshoot of the Methodist Church.

In 1843, during the Civil War, the Methodist Church refused to denounce slavery. Because of that stance, the Wesleyan Methodist Church and the Pilgrim Holiness Church formed.

Though not a new church, the Wesleyan Church has a much stronger presence east of the Mississippi.

Wesleyans are an evangelical group who believe that the Bible is the highest source of written authority for God's plan. "We believe the inherency of God's word is found in the Bible," said Zimmer.

There is also a strong belief that the defining feature of God's will for all humankind is Jesus Christ -- that Jesus Christ is the best example of godliness.

Zimmer would like to see St. Croix Valley Wesleyan Church help people become disciples.

According to the Oakdale Wesleyan Church website, becoming a disciple "... requires a strong focus on evangelism and training in spiritual growth and holy living. Done effectively, this will produce and promote growth and health in and among the churches."

Pitching in and growing

With the idea of a church coming to fruition, everyone has had a hand in the progress made so far.

"Everybody is participating in every area of the church -- we have a church board structure," said Zimmer. "We have one guy who does all the IT work."

According to Zimmer, the goal is to add more members to the congregation -- there are now 14 members.

The church is mainly comprised of baby-boomer aged individuals. "With this age group there is a consistency in commitment," Zimmer said.

The church does want to expand and grow, "...we want to encourage families," he said. "We want to be an all-purpose church."

With a growth in congregation size, the church can look to expanding even further.

"As the congregation grows we can have someone experienced in church planting (a process where a Christian church is established within a community) to take it to the next step," said Zimmer.

The St. Croix Valley Wesleyan Church holds services at 10 a.m. Sundays a.m. at the Crossings Inn and Suites. For more information call 651-739-2940.

Jillian Dexheimer
Jillian Dexheimer has been a copy editor and reporter for the River Falls Journal since 2011. She previously worked for the River Falls Chamber of Commerce and Tourism Bureau. Dexheimer holds a sociology degree from UW-River Falls.
(715) 426-1046