Spirit River Community Church uses new home as community center

By Elizabeth Sias

The people of Spirit River Community Church want to be known as a community.

Children come up to the stage to pet a deer during a Children’s Moment during Spirit River Community United Methodist Church’s worship service.

With their new location in the former Isanti banquet hall, that vision is starting to become a reality.

Spirit River moved to what was once called Spectacular Events Banquet Center. The sign out front of the 17,500 square-foot building at 1320 Co. Rd. 5 now reads Spirit River Community Center.

“We understand this facility is a community center, and we’re just stewards of it,” Pastor Jim Crecelius said.

The church formerly held services in Isanti Middle School, but Crecelius said the community center’s open space works well with the church’s worship style and he looks forward to getting the community involved in using the facility.

He’s in talks with a restaurant interested in using the building. Spectacular Events Catering still operates from the property, and will partner with Spirit River for some events, such as the upcoming Thanksgiving Day meal, served free of charge.

Community outreach is of utmost importance, Crecelius said. Spirit River serves a community meal the second Wednesday of the month, and Crecelius said the goal is to offer it weekly. They will also continue their food distribution ministry Matthew 25, which feeds 300 to 500 people per month.

The church hopes the property will allow growth in community outreach and philanthropy. The property appealed to Spirit River for a variety of reasons.

Parishioners sit at round tables during worship service.

“The building fits our style and our vision. It has open spaces for community gatherings. This is set up for church,” Crecelius said, pointing to the round tables and chairs that are used during worship.

As a community center, Spirit River aims to host community events and encourages people to take advantage of the large banquet hall that features a stage, round tables and chairs.

The first movie night will be Nov. 11, when “Transformers: Dark of the Moon” will be played on a large projector screen.

The five-acre property also allows for future expansion. Community gardens out front could be seen as early as next spring, and Crecelius explained the church may build a gymnasium on the north side, allowing community members to start basketball or volleyball leagues.

The property became available when the mortgage was foreclosed and it was put up for auction.

Spirit River and several other entities made offers before the auction. Although not the highest bidder, the buyer accepted Spirit River’s purchase agreement because of their commitment to using the facility as a community center.

Spirit River held their first worship service at their new location on Sept. 11.