Ichabod explores the Age of Apostasy, predicted in 2 Thessalonians 2:3, with an emphasis on UOJ, Church Growth, and Emergent Church heresies. The antidote to these poisons is trusting the efficacious Word in the Means of Grace. John 16:8. Most readers are WELS, LCMS, ELS, or ELCA. This blog also covers the Roman Catholic Church, Eastern Orthodoxy, and the mainline denominations.
After 70 years of weekly worship, the church’s last service will be Sunday.
“This took me by surprise,” 20-year member Zelda Erickson said Monday after learning of the closing at an announcement during Sunday’s church service. “I feel terrible about this.”
North Heights once had Sunday attendance of 3,400 at two church locations. But attendance has fallen recently to several hundred — not enough to keep the church afloat.
“That church is absolutely broke,” said Jack Anderson, a former member who now worships with a breakaway group in a nearby hotel.
Phone and email messages to church leaders, including pastor Mindy Bak, were not answered Monday.
The church was founded in 1946 at a 450-seat church in Roseville. By 1985, it had blossomed into one of Minnesota’s first mega-churches. Its 43-acre campus in Arden Hills held a 1,350-capacity sanctuary and several chapels, as well as a basketball and racquetball courts.
But amid declining membership and income, officials laid off half of the church’s 88-person staff in June and closed the original church in Roseville in July.
The reaction was furious. About two-thirds of the congregation left and began to worship separately at the AmericInn Hotels & Suites in Mounds View. That group, called the Bondservants, holds two services every Sunday for about 1,000 worshippers.
Former church member Anderson blamed the troubles on Bak.
“She lost the primary support of the church — the tithers,” said Anderson. “The young people around here are not in a position to command a lot of resources. But the (breakaway church) has lots of well-established people.”
Jim Kellett was a member of North Heights for about 25 years — until he began attending the alternative services last year. He, too, was critical of Bak and said she was “destroying the church.”
When interviewed in September, Bak said the drastic cuts were necessary to save the church. She charged that the Bondservants were sexist and could not stand to see the church led by a woman.
“In her mind, that is true,” said Anderson. “But not in our minds. I have never heard anyone in that group say anything about that.”
Among many unanswered questions about the church’s closing is the fate of the church’s school.
North Heights Christian Academy teaches students from kindergarten through eighth grade in buildings next to the original Roseville church.
In a letter sent to parents, principal Jeffrey Taylor said he was taken by surprise.
It is not known, he said, what impact the church closing would have on the school, but school officials were working hard to keep it open. He noted that church officials “were meeting with bankers to discuss current assets and funding on Wednesday.”
Taylor and other school officials did not return phone messages left Monday.
The prospect of the academy being jeopardized bothers longtime member Erickson.
“That is where my heart really hurts,” she said, because her granddaughter attended the school.
It might be possible, said former church member Kellett, for the breakaway group to rescue the dying church.
It is not known if the group might want to buy the church facility or be reabsorbed into the church.
“North Heights is a tightly knit church community,” Kellett said. “They are going to correct this.”
But most members were pessimistic.
Erickson looked over the church’s weekly schedule. “There are going to be women’s Bible studies this week, and two Wednesday services, and then one on Sunday,” she said.
“And then no more services. This country’s backbone is our faith, and we have strayed from that.”
From Wiki -
Morris George Cornell Vaagenes (1929- ) has been a leader in the national and international Lutheran and Ecumenical Charismatic movement since 1970, the largest spiritual awakening movement in history, with 650,000,000 Christians involved in its transformational power. He was chairman of the International Lutheran Conference on the Holy Spirit with annual gatherings. He is an ordained pastor on the roster of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA). Dr. Vaagenes is a former missionary to Madagascar and Pastor-Emeritus of North Heights Lutheran Church, a mega-church in Roseville and Arden Hills, northern suburbs of St. Paul, Minnesota. He is a published author of two books, and president of Renewal International, a ministry supporting mission projects in Madagascar as well as fostering spiritual renewal Spiritual awakening in the church. As of April 2010, Dr. Vaagenes is serving as Senior Pastor of Lutheran Church of the Master in Brooklyn Center, Minnesota.
North Heights Lutheran Church, under the leadership of Pastor Vaagenes, expanded to two large campuses to accommodate its growing membership and ministries that include major music and drama productions, North Heights Christian Academy, Lay Ministry Training Center International, and International Institute on Church Renewal. In the book, The Multi-Site Church Revolution by Geoff Suratt, Greg Ligon and Warren Bird (Zondervan, 2006, p. 194), the expansion at North Heights is named as a trailblazer in mega-church ministry.
Morris Vaagenes is the son of Rev. Morris G.C. Vaagenes and Hanna Bøvre Vaagenes. Both parents were born and lived the first part of their lives in Norway. It was at a missionary conference that a relationship began that led to their marriage in 1926. The couple had four children: Carl (b. 1927), Morris (b. 1929), Adelaide (1933–1936) and Lois (1935–1936). Adelaide and Lois are buried at Betroka Betroka, Madagascar.