Welcome to the church of the 21st century! Although the institutional Christian church has been divided into strictly separate denominational groups for centuries, there are some indications that change may be on the horizon!
Pastor Rich Lindeman of Olive Branch Lutheran Church explains: “We are Three Churches One Location. We are three separate and autonomous Christian congregations that share the same facilities in Coon Rapids. We are inter-denominational, inter-racial, inter-generational, inter-cultural, and inter-connected through our Christian faith. We are a faith community that is marked by ingenuity, diversity and tolerance. We are Asian, European, African and American. We are Lutheran, Baptist and Pentecostal. We are all for one and one for all in Jesus Christ!”
Three years ago Olive Branch, a mostly white Lutheran suburban congregation in Coon Rapids, invited a small and racially integrated Pentecostal Christian church to come alongside of them and to share in usage of their church facilities. But that was just the beginning. In the spring of 2008 Olive Branch invited another church, this time a Filipino American Christian congregation to also come alongside and to join in sharing their church facilities.
Youth pastor Roberto Atienza from the Filipino American Christian Church says, “Our three churches are very different Christian congregations but we have found a way to respect each other in our denominational differences and to also build strong bonds together. Our motto is ‘Worship with any ONE of us, then work & fellowship with ALL of us..”
And it makes perfect sense” says pastor Earl GilChrist of Waters of Life Outreach Ministry: “Sharing of facilities enables us to share many other things: sharing of people and material resources, sharing of costs, sharing of joys and sharing of burdens, sharing of dreams and visions, sharing of skills and energies in projects that we choose to undertake together, cooperation and coordination in ministries that we choose to undertake separately. It just makes a lot of good common sense for our three separate Christian ministries to connect together in this way for the good of each other and for the good of God’s Kingdom.”
Pastor Louie Santelices of the Filipino church adds: “And we are making a difference! The Christian church today is sadly divided in many ways and we cannot change that. However, by God’s grace we can make a very positive difference and impact toward Christian unity where we are at! Solomon said, ‘It is better to light a single candle than to curse the darkness.’ Although we cannot cure the problem of Christian divisions in the world we can and should be a light and an example of Christian unity here in Coon Rapids, Minnesota.
“Therefore we shall gladly proclaim the message of God’s love and salvation in Jesus Christ to all who will listen. And to people of faith we shall also declare through our partnership with each other that it truly is possible for all Christians to work and fellowship together in the name of Jesus Christ!”
It remains to be seen whether Three Churches One Location is truly a sign of changing trends in the 21st Century Christian church. But at least for now, inter-denominational, inter-cultural, and inter-racial gatherings are happening regularly in Coon Rapids! Three Churches One Location is located at 2135 Northdale Blvd NW, in Coon Rapids across from Village 10 Shopping Center.